Managing the invisible : understanding and improving groundwater governance

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Groundwater is playing an increasingly important role in domestic, industrial and agricultural water supply. With the advent of the tube well and driven by the rapid growth of demand for agricultural and municipal water, annual global groundwater extraction has increased in recent decades from 100 km3 a year in 1950 to a current estimated use of about 800 km3 a year (Wada et al., 2010; Margat, 2008). Today, 43 percent of global irrigation (Siebert et al., 2010) as well as more than 50 percent of the world's drinking water supply (Zekster and Everett, 2004) and a large share of global industrial activity depend on groundwater. In addition to its capacity to answer growing water demand, groundwater also provides unique opportunities to cope with increased climate variability due to climate change. Climate change will have an impact on all components of the hydrological cycle and result in changes in the seasonal and geographical distribution of water on the planet. Climate change may negatively impact groundwater resources in case of changes in groundwater recharge due to changing river discharge or rainfall patterns. Climate change may also lead to an increased pressure on groundwater resources in case of reduced availability of surface water resources. But groundwater also has a unique potential to adapt to climate change, primarily as a result of its buffering potential against increased climate variability.

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