2024-05-15

PARIS / BRUSSELS / MADRID – Groundwater is the ecosystem Europe has always been able to rely on, and grew to consider an infinite resource. This cross-border investigation reveals that the current state of matters is dire: our water is disappearing and what remains is facing near-irreversible pollution.

Europe has long been proud of its clean water; accessible, abundant and drinkable. Most of what we drink, irrigate our gardens and crops with, and use for industrial production, comes from deep underground, from within vast labyrinths of aquifers.

This precious groundwater sustains an entire continent, and has helped to turn Europe into one of the most sanitary and prosperous regions in the world. For nearly one hundred years, nations have tapped deeper into the earth to extract water, confident that this infinite resource will forever be replenished by rainfall.

Now our understanding has shifted drastically. Scientists have increasingly warned in recent years that this delicate ecosystem is in crisis. And that climate change and industrial overexploitation have resulted in a dramatic decline in the quality and quantity of underground freshwater in Europe and the world.

Under the Surface project delved into official data from European countries to reveal for the first time the extent of the danger we are facing. 14 journalists from seven countries analysed the most up-to-date official EU figures to create an interactive map of the perilous state of Europe’s aquifers. The conclusion is that our water is disappearing and what remains is facing near-irreversible pollution.

Image: Antonio Delgado/Datadista

Team members

Ana Tudela

Ana Tudela is investigative economic journalist and co-founder of DATADISTA (Spain).

Ana Tudela

Antonio Delgado

Antonio Delgado is data journalist and co-founder of DATADISTA (Spain).

Antonio Delgado

Elisabetta Tola

Elisabetta Tola is an Italian journalist and science communicator.

Elisabetta Tola

Marco Boscolo

Marco Boscolo is an Italian freelance journalist and science writer. 

Marco Boscolo

Myrto Boutsi

Myrto Boutsi is a reporter and an international news editor based in Athens.

Myrto Boutsi Journalist

Zeynep Sentek

Zeynep Sentek is a Turkish journalist based in Portugal.

Zeynep Sentek
Media

Datadista

Datadista is a Spanish digital media oulet specialised in investigative journalism, infographics, graphics and statistics.

datadista

Reporters United

Reporters United is a network of reporters aiming to support investigative journalism in Greece.

Reporters United

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