Defining groundwater ‘sustainability’ vital to establishing best practices and policy


WESTERVILLE, OH -- A shared understanding of groundwater “sustainability” is key to developing well-conceived policies and best practices to ensure a water-secure future, the National Ground Water Association said today as it intensifies its focus on groundwater sustainability.

As part of this prioritization, NGWA has updated its position paper on sustainable groundwater resources, and adopted definitions of “sustainability” and “resilience” as they pertain to groundwater.

NGWA’s updated position paper delineates principles to guide best practices for groundwater resources sustainability.

NGWA noted that groundwater is the world’s most extracted raw material with withdrawal rates currently estimated at 982 km3 per year [1] or 259.4 trillion U.S. gallons. In the United States, fresh groundwater extraction is about 76 billion gallons a day [2].

In defining groundwater sustainability, NGWA has adopted the U.S. Geological Survey definition (USGS Circular 1186): “Groundwater sustainability is the development and use of groundwater resources to meet current and future beneficial uses without causing unacceptable environmental or socioeconomic consequences.”

“Unacceptable consequences of the development and use of groundwater include excessive water-level declines, lost production, dry wells, reduction or cessation of spring flow, loss of wildlife and aquatic habitat, land subsidence, water-quality deterioration, and contamination resulting in illness, disease, and mortality of people and wildlife,” said NGWA.

[1] Margat, J., and J. van der Gun. 2013. Groundwater around the World, CRC Press/Balkema.

[2] USGS. 2014. Estimated Water Use in the United States, 2010. USGS Circular 1405.

NGWA, the leading worldwide advocate for professionals teaming to provide, protect, manage, and remediate groundwater, conveniently and promptly delivers an extensive range of resources contributing to member success through relationships, leading edge and emerging practices, and credible new ideas and solutions.

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