Ecosystems can be highly dependent on groundwater. Springheads, and wetlands, streams, rivers and lakes may receive groundwater discharge. Groundwater may support shallow-rooted lowland woods and meadows in alluvial settings, or deep-rooted vegetation in arid zones with much deeper water-tables. Understanding how groundwater provides support to ecosystems and the economic consequences of groundwater degradation will emphasise the need for collaborative and integrated actions and basin management for rivers, lakes and aquifers. For further information see IAH’s strategic overview on ecosystem conservation and groundwater.
1 year 11 months
Thanks for coming back to me on this. As you know, groundwater can all too often be ‘out of sight and out of mind’ and so can be neglected by those who manage activities that affect the water environment and dependent ecosystems. Groundwater is a fundamental part of the water environment and needs to be managed together with rivers, lakes and estuaries – and of course needs to be taken into account when considering any activities that impact on water in the environment. To do this we need to help all the relevant stakeholders understand how the different parts in this story fit together - and to take the necessary collaborative actions to manage them sustainably.
Groundwater is a major source of urban supply worldwide. However, urbanisation modifies the ‘groundwater cycle’ and can lead to declining aquifer pressures (which can cause land subsidence with building and infrastructure damage) or a rising water-table (which can lead to groundwater flooding with public health hazards and infrastructure damage). Groundwater needs to be used efficiently and sustainably for urban water-supply, and an ‘adaptive management strategy’ should be applied. Integrated approaches to urban water-supply, mains sewerage and sanitation, stormwater drainage, and urban land-use will reduce the cost and improve the resilience of the urban water infrastructure. Cross sector consortia of regulatory agencies and other major stake holders, including groundwater representation, should establish and implement management action plans. For further information see the International Association of Hydrogeologists' Strategic overview on resilient cities and groundwater.
The high quality of most groundwaters, resulting from the self-purification capacity of soils and underlying rocks, has long been a key factor in human health and wellbeing. More than 50% of the world’s population now rely on groundwater for their supply of drinking water. Aquifers used for drinking water supplies should be assessed and monitored for pollution risks. In most cases a properly located and soundly-engineered water-well that prevents direct entry of pollutants, such as pathogenic organisms, fuels or other contaminants, represents a low-cost, reliable and safe source. Collaborative actions by a range of water-users will help protect this vital resource. For further information see IAH’s strategic overview on human health and groundwater.
1 year 11 months
Thanks for your question on this. Clearly good quality, safe drinking water is vital and with so much of the world's population reliant on groundwater it is essential that we protect this resource. Wells need to be sited away from sources of pollution and be designed to prevent entry of pollutants. Protection of groundwater is integral to achieving the SDG targets and ideally there should be ‘groundwater resource status indicators’ to realise these aims. The International Association of Hydrogeologists has published a strategic overview on how groundwater resources underpin the UN Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030. You can find out further information on SDGs and essential indicators for groundwater here.