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Rising sea levels cause all sorts of problems, of course, but one of them is invisible: It increases the likelihood of salt water oozing into fresh-water aquifers, which taints wells. Here’s a story from the New Bedford Light in Massachusetts:

This phenomenon is called saltwater intrusion, and it’s an emerging climate challenge for communities on groundwater across coastal New England. The introduction of ocean salt water into tap water makes it taste unpleasant and — in severe cases — undrinkable. Salty tap water also poses health concerns for those with high blood pressure. It corrodes home water systems and appliances.

Still, Thomas Boving, chair of the geosciences department at the University of Rhode Island, says Westport’s problem is the “canary in the coal mine” for Massachusetts communities that depend on coastal groundwater. He noted that the problem will only spread as sea levels rise and growing populations drive increased groundwater pumping.  

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