GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 9-10
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


RE, Viviana, University of Pisa, Pisa, 56126, Italy, MANZIONE, Rodrigo, São Paulo State University, Tupã, Brazil, ABIYE, Tamiru, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, MUKHERJI, Aditi, Kathmundu, Nepal and MACDONALD, Alan, British Geological Survey, Edinburgh, EH14 4AP, United Kingdom

In many areas of the world groundwater represents the primary source of water for domestic supply and agriculture, supporting livelihoods and lifting many out of poverty. However, the hidden nature of groundwater often means that its important role both historically and in the present is overlooked, hampering its effective management and putting future supplies at risk. For the benefits of groundwater abstraction to continue to be realized and sustained, the links between groundwater availability and quality, climate change, and groundwater-dependent livelihoods need to be explored and articulated. This becomes even more important with growing climate uncertainty and decreasing water security in some marginal and vulnerable areas, with an increasing threat to livelihoods.

This presentation summarises the results of 3 years work by the International Association of Hydrogeologists' Burdon Network for International Development bringing together 25 case studies from seventeen countries to examine the links between groundwater use, sustainable livelihoods and equitable growth. There is compelling evidence that the development of groundwater has profoundly improved many peoples lives, and continues to lift people out of poverty today. Common to many of the case studies were the tradeoffs required for society to both benefit from groundwater while protecting the quality and quantity of the resource to sustain future use. This requires a good understanding of aquifers, the dynamics of the groundwater system and the current abstraction and contaminants, while placing groundwater in specific the legal, economic and social context, Many of the studies reflected on the paucity of sound data on groundwater and aquifer features at local, regional and transboundary level, despite the high dependency of local communities to this resource, which limited the ability to reliably forecast future opportunities and threats. It is therefore of critical importance to increase investment in charactersing, monitoring and governing groundwater, explore links between science, policy and practice, and to effectively communicate existing knowledge so that groundwater will continue to improve people’s lives for centuries to come.