The Groundwater Paradox: a hidden challenge for society

Convenor(s):
CSD Engineers; International Association of Hydrogeologists ; Skat; Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; Swiss Federal Office for the Environment; Swiss Water Partnership and Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor

Groundwater forms the main source for domestic water in the world: it counts for 30% of total freshwater on earth and 96% of available freshwater. As pressure on water resources continuously increases, it becomes increasingly crucial to manage sustainably this resource to guarantee its availability and quality on the long term. Data are necessary to define the aquifer volume that is usable: dimensions and features of the reservoir, quality, recharge mechanism and seasonal variability. However often these data are lacking or are only partially available.

What is the rationale behind this situation leading to lack of groundwater regulation and governance?

This event will explore three mains reasons:

  1. Psychological and/or sociological: groundwater as a “hidden” good conveys a mysterious image that makes rational approach of groundwater more difficult.
  2. Financial: as groundwater has no economic value (common good), mechanisms to guide investment decisions and resource allocation do not exist. Invested amounts to develop and protect groundwater are therefore not related to its importance and non-substitutable nature.
  3. Sector thinking: classic sector approaches have clustered surface water and groundwater, which has not enabled to take into account their interactions and often led to more emphasis on surface water and needs.

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Sunday 16:00-17:30
NL 461
Register to the week
Freshwater on Earth
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