This chapter provides an overview and thus contributes to a better understanding of the world’s groundwater resources, their distinctiveness and their governance. It describes the principal elements of and key instruments employed in groundwater governance. To this end, the authors introduce several case studies from across the globe and offer some corresponding lessons learnt. In particular, this chapter presents an analysis of the role of monitoring and assessment in groundwater governance, showcasing the example of The Netherlands. A global diagnostic of the current state of groundwater governance is provided, based on information from a set of commissioned thematic papers and the outcomes of five subsequent regional consultations carried out within the framework of a GEF-supported project.
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.
Addressing the Groundwater Governance Challenge
Modes And Approaches of Groundwater Governance: A Survey of Lessons Learned from Selected
The growing importance of groundwater as a critical component of water supply for agriculture, urban areas, industry, and ecosystems has increased the need to protect aquifers worldwide from overexploitation. Water governance is central to achieving this end. Thus, the article "Modes and Approaches of Groundwater Governance: A Survey of Lessons Learned from Selected Cases across the Globe", by Robert G. Varady, Adriana A. Zuniga-Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Sharon B. Megdal from the University of Arizona, analyzes ten selected groundwater-governance case studies from diverse regions to identify characteristics of good governance practice. The cases selected varied across four elements - institutional setting, availability and access to information and science, robustness of civil society, and economic and regulatory framework. All four of these elements were found to have important impacts on governance by affecting incentives, conflict, power relations, effectiveness, and sustainability of process and outcomes. In sum, critical capacities of governments at multiple levels and civil society actors were found in the characteristics of shared governance. This article was published in a Special Issue of the journal Water with the title "Water Governance, Stakeholder Engagement, and Sustainable Water Resources Management," edited by the WRRC's Sharon B. Megdal and Susanna Eden and Eylon Shamir of the Hydrologic Research Center, San Diego, CA.
ISMAR9 Call to Action Sustainable Groundwater Management Policy Directives
August 2016 saw the release of a Call to Action developed during two working sessions at the International Association of Hydrogeologists International Symposium for Managed Aquifer Recharge in June 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. A working group further refined the document in the following weeks. Designed for decision-makers and the public, the Call to Action is intended to inform, engage, and educate stakeholders on the critical need for addressing our shrinking groundwater resources now, before it is too late. The Call to Action is available in both English and Spanish.
Innovative Approaches to Collaborative Groundwater Governance in the United States: Case Studies from Three High-Growth Regions in the Sun Belt
In several areas of the United States, groundwater reliance has created new challenges for sustainable management. This article, written by Sharon B. Megdal, Andrea K. Gerlak, Ling-Yee Huang, Nathaniel Delano, Robert G. Varady, and Jacob D. Petersen-Perlman, examines how regional groundwater users coordinate and collaborate to manage shared groundwater resources, including attention to what drives collaboration. To identify and illustrate these facets, this article examines three geographically diverse cases of groundwater governance and management from the United States Sun Belt: Orange County Water District in southern California; Prescott Active Management Area in north-central Arizona; and the Central Florida Water Initiative in central Florida. These regions have different surface water laws, groundwater allocation and management laws and regulations, demographics, economies, topographies, and climate. These cases were selected because the Sun Belt faces similar pressures on groundwater due to historical and projected population growth and limited availability of usable surface water supplies. Collectively, they demonstrate groundwater governance trends in the United States, and illustrate distinctive features of regional groundwater management strategies.
The Groundwater Visibility Initiative: Integrating Groundwater and Surface Water Management
Making groundwater more “visible” was the subject of a workshop held in Denver, Colorado, April 28, 2016. The workshop marked the starting point for an initiative intended to raise awareness of groundwater, its characteristics, governance, and importance as a source for water resource sustainability. A report from that workshop was released in August 2016, which lays out key findings and recommendation, along with a call to action for elevating the status of groundwater in the minds of professionals, policy makers, and the public. In addition, a group of authors, including Michael E. Campana, William M. Alley, Lisa Beutler, Sharon B. Megdal, and John C. Tracy, have worked together on two papers published in August-September 2016. These papers carry out the call to action by getting the word out on the Groundwater Visibility Initiative and its goals.
Opening the Black Box: Using a Hydrological Model to Link Stakeholder Engagement with Groundwater Management
Stakeholder participation is a foundation of good water governance. Good groundwater governance typically involves the co-production of knowledge about the groundwater system. Models provide a vehicle for producing this knowledge, as well as a “boundary object” around which scientists and stakeholders can convene the co-production process. Through co-production, stakeholders and scientific experts can engage in exchanges that create system knowledge not otherwise achievable. The process involves one-way transfer of information, active two-way conversations, and integration of multiple kinds of knowledge into shared understanding. In the Upper Santa Cruz River basin in Arizona, USA, the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) convened a project aimed at providing scientific underpinnings for groundwater planning and management. This project, entitled Groundwater, Climate, and Stakeholder Engagement, serves as a case study employing the first two stages of knowledge co-production using a hydrological model. Through an iterative process that included two-way communication, stakeholders provided critical input to hydrologic modeling analyses. Acting as a bridging organization, the WRRC facilitated a co-production process, involving location-specific and transferability workshops, which resulted in new knowledge and capacity for applying the model to novel problems.