The imbalance between water supply and demand is of growing concern globally. Rarely a day goes by without news about the dwindling surface water supplies, with the Colorado River as the poster child. Coverage of approaches to addressing the supply/demand imbalance is broad, with strategies including augmentation, reuse, market mechanisms, and conservation. The dialogue involves not only diminishing surface water supplies but also the increasing role of, and threats to, groundwater — which accounts for 99% of Earth’s liquid freshwater (UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme 2022, see References, below). Not coincidentally, heightened dialogue on groundwater has coincided with World Water Day’s 2022 theme: “Groundwater — Making the Invisible Visible” and the annual United Nations World Water Development Report with the same moniker. Next August, the annual Stockholm World Water Week has the theme of “Seeing the Unseen: The Value of Water.” Next December, the 2022 UN-Water Summit on Groundwater will continue 2022’s global focus on groundwater.
Groundwater Governance and Management
State-Level Groundwater Governance and Management in the U.S.
Groundwater is increasingly important for meeting water demand across the United States. Forward thinking governance and effective management are necessary for its sustainable use. The U.S. has state governments that are primarily reponsible for groundwater governance (i.e., making laws, policies, and regulations) and management (i.e., implementation of laws, policies, and regulations). This decentralized approach results in different strategies and practices. In Fall 2015 the Water Resources Research Center began the next phase of its "Groundwater Goverance in the U.S." project. A nationwide survey was developed in coordination with an advisory council from the Ground Water Research and Education Foundation (GWREF) and funded by a grant from the GWREF. The survey was administered to state-level officials who oversee groundwater quality programs in 2016 in order to identify on-the-ground practices that may help improve and enhance management of the nation's water supplies. The report was finalized in June 2017.
Managed Aquifer Recharge - MAR as a Mechanism to Advance Water Policy Goals: a Perspective
The U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program as a Model for Transborder Groundwater Collaboration
Decentralized Groundwater Governance and Water Nexus Implications in the United States
The interconnectivities of groundwater to food, energy, and the climate are addressed to various degrees at the state level. Groundwater governance in the United States is decentralized, resulting in considerable variations in state practices. This article, published in Jurimetrics and written by Sharon B. Megdal and Jacob Petersen-Perlman, reports on two state-level surveys and three regional case studies conducted to better understand groundwater governance strategies and practices. The article also relates the results of these research efforts to food, energy, and climate. The analysis points to the importance of identifying best practices for addressing nexus challenges for groundwater.
Citation: Sharon B. Megdal & Jacob D. Petersen-Perlman, Decentralized Groundwater Governance and Water Nexus Implications in the United States, 59 JURIMETRICS J. 99-119 (2018).
Critical Issues Affecting Groundwater Quality Governance in the United States
The article, "Critical Issues Affecting Groundwater Quality Governance in the United States," published in Water in 2018, by Jacob D. Petersen-Perlman, Sharon B. Megdal, Andrea K. Gerlak, Mike Wireman, Adriana A. Zuniga-Teran, and Robert G. Varady, reports the results of the "State-Level Groundwater Governance and Management in the U.S.: Summary of Survey Results of Groundwater Quality Strategies". Survey respondents identify a wide assortment of groundwater issues and concerns, including quality and quantity impairment, staffing and budget issues, private well vulnerability, and overdraft. The authors also discuss how findings align with current groundwater uses in the U.S.
Invisible Water: The Importance of Good Groundwater Governance and Management
Increasing demand for water has led to a higher reliance on groundwater. As dependence on groundwater increases, water managers and policy makers need to pay careful attention to both groundwater quality and quantity. This paper, written by Sharon B. Megdal for the journal npj Clean Water in 2018, summarizes the results of efforts to bring attention to the importance of understanding and improving groundwater governance and management. Discussion of survey work in the United States and global case studies highlights the importance of focusing attention on this invisible water resource before pollution or depletion of it causes severe economic, environmental, and social dislocations. Better governance and management of groundwater are required to move toward sustainable groundwater use.
Groundwater Governance in the United States: A Mosaic of Approaches
The diversity of groundwater governance (making laws, policies, and regulations) within the United States makes describing generalities difficult, as each state determines its own groundwater priorities and governance approaches. Sometimes states delegate significant reponsibilities to sub-state jurisdictions. This chapter in the book Advances in Groundwater Governance, written by Sharon B. Megdal, Adriana Zuniga Teran, Robert G. Varady, Nathaniel Delano, Andrea K. Gerlak and Ethan T. Vimont demonstrates the changing nature of groundwater governance and groundwater debates by considering California and Arizona. Arizona has a long history of practicing groundwater management in designated parts of the state, while California recently adopted a more comprehensive, state-wide approach.