How a Patchwork of Rules to Protect America’s Water Is Falling Short

Groundwater is one of America’s most precious resources. The water that fills wells, stored naturally in underground aquifers, allowed vast cities to emerge and turned the nation into an agricultural powerhouse.

But the country’s stewardship of groundwater relies on a patchwork of state and local rules so lax and outdated that in many places, oversight is all but nonexistent, a New York Times investigation has found.