Theme: 3. Water security in a changing world
(a) the purpose or thesis of the project;
To control groundwater overexploitation in Hebei province, and explore measures and experiences that can extend to other regions, to increase groundwater management capacity, to achieve sustainable utilization of water resources and support continuous growth of economy.
b) Summary of the problem addressed
Since 1970s, China, especially the north region, started to intensively pump groundwater as water supply for agriculture irrigation, industry development and city expansion. To meet water demand for rapid growth of economy, groundwater is continuously and disorderly exploited to great extend for long time in some regions in China, plus faulty operation and management, as well as insufficient emphasis on protection, severe problems of groundwater over exploitation and contamination have occurred.
Hebei is one of China's provinces with the most serious groundwater over-exploitation problem, and is dependent on groundwater to a great extent. More than 90% of the province's plain areas is classified as groundwater overdraft area. The annual over- groundwater reaches 6 billion m3, accounting for more than 40% of the province's total water supply. Groundwater over-exploitation has caused the depletion of aquifers, land subsidence, ground fissures and seawater intrusion, etc.
In 2014, four ministries of China, including Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Land and Resources and Ministry of Agriculture, jointly launched a pilot project of groundwater over-exploitation control in Hebei Province. By 2016, the Chinese government has invested more than 3.5 billion USD on this project and has achieved initial results. Annual reduction of groundwater overdraft in the pilot region caused by irrigation has reached 500 million m3, part of the groundwater level began to rise.
It is emphasized that groundwater over-exploitation control involves many aspects. Comprehensive approaches are needed. First, to build water conservancy projects to improve surface water supply capacity; second, to build efficient water-saving irrigation system; third, to adjust agricultural planting mode; fourth, to improve groundwater monitoring system; fifth, to improve groundwater management capacity, including clear water use right, water price reform.
(D) Summary of the conclusions
a) Groundwater over-exploitation control involves many fields, including water, land, agriculture, forest and Finance, etc.
b) Comprehensive measures are needed, and different measures have different adaptation conditions.
c) Better water right and water pricing system are crucial to groundwater overexploitation control and management.
(E) Summary of the implications
The knowledge of increasing water use efficiency, enhancing conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater and building effective groundwater resources management system are helpful for other regions relying on groundwater and have groundwater overexploitation problem.
(F) Policy-science dimension
Groundwater utilization is crucial for food security and economy development, and is utilized by numerous individual farmers and other users in China. The following aspects are needed to be enhanced to effectively control groundwater use:
a) Cooperation and coordination of different departments on water utilization and protection
b) Social awareness and education on sustainable utilization of water resources.
d) Clear and precise legislation system with strict implementation.
Many touristic islands around the world are facing a threat to the availability and the quality of the water resource because of problems in common like water scarcity during low precipitation seasons, overexploitation of the aquifers, intrusion of the sea water into the aquifers and lack of wastewater treatment plants. Because of the increasing tourism population, the water management requires improvements in order to address this environmental problem. San Andres is a Colombian Island located in the Caribbean Sea with and extension of 26 km2. It has a population of 72.000 inhabitants with a fluctuant population of 1.000.000 tourists per year. The main water source is the groundwater from two aquifers (82%), which are recharged naturally. However, because of the increasing tourism industry, the exploitation of the water resource is higher than the natural recharge, which results in the intrusion into the aquifers. In addition, there are around 5.000 water wells and 10.000 septic tanks. These issues have created an environmental, social and economic problem which has been under discussion by the local and national authorities in the last years. The goal of this research is to evaluate the eco-efficiency of the water resource management in the island, in order to identify processes feasible to be improved to decrease the risk of lack of availability of the water resource and the decrease of its quality. In order to reach this goal, a first phase was proposed to make a characterization of the water management system based on the material flow analysis methodology, taking into account the different processes involved, like water extraction, water treatment, water distribution, and wastewater treatment. The main parameter studied was the water flow between all the processes in the water management system and its fluctuation in the time. A second phase consisted of the study of the social and ecological interactions in the water resource management system and the influence of stakeholders and environmental policies in the system. This phase allows identifying the processes and flows feasible to be improved and the potential strategies to be implemented in order to increase the eco-efficiency in the water resource management in the island. The results of this research not only help to give recommendations to the stakeholders to improve the sustainability of the water resource management, but also, it helps to create a research framework to study other case studies about the water management in islands in developing countries worldwide. This research is funded by the Research Unit and the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the “Universidad Santo Tomas Seccional Tunja, Colombia”.
There is a great deal of scientific evidence documenting groundwater overuse throughout the world. Despite this evidence, the resources of many, if not most, aquifers are not managed sustainably. This presentation discusses aquifers around the world, identifies factors that have driven management success, and considers whether these factors can be used to identify other aquifers likely to achieve similar results. Surveyed aquifers that are succesfully managed or have taken important steps towards management include the West Coast Basin in California, the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer in Idaho, and the Genevese Aquifer in France and Switzerland. They are contrasted with overused aquifers, including the San Joaquin Basin in California, the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwestern United States, and the Sana'a Aquifer in Yemen.
Where groundwater management is working, the following factors have been integral to success: (1) an imminent, certain and broad threat of long-term damage to the water supply, (2) the presence of urban water users, (3) a source of supplemental water, and (4) the presence of junior water rights holders. These factors, briefly described below, will be presented with explanations and examples from the surveyed aquifers.
First, managed aquifers have faced imminent and certain threats that impact many users such as seawater intrusion. In contrast, declining groundwater levels alone often fail to drive management implementation, at least in part because groundwater users find the evidence insufficiently certain to support management decisions.
Second, groundwater management is often funded by urban water users. Urban water users have long-term interests in sustainable local supplies. They are responsible to the public and thus subject to significant political pressure, and they can pass the cost on to many rate payers.
Third, the availability of supplemental water facilitates groundwater management by limiting the burden on pumpers. Where an aquifer is in overdraft, some combination of reduced pumping and increased recharge is required. Although supplemental water is more expensive, without it pumping reductions will have a bigger economic impact and may be too severe for water users to withstand.
Finally, junior water rights holders are often the first to support groundwater management because they risk losing their pumping rights and thus will compromise in exchange for more certain groundwater allocations. In contrast, senior water rights holders are more likely to advocate for the status quo through reliance on their superior legal claims and the belief that they can exclude others from the aquifer before being compelled to reduce their own use.
Implementing effective groundwater management, from the initial engagement of water users to the funding and establishment of management institutions, is a very difficult process in any basin, but the challenges are greater in some basins than others. I have seen this in my three decades of water law practice. Because of the number of aquifers already under great stress, it will not be possible to succesfully implement management in all of them simultaneously. Understanding the drivers of successful groundwater management helps identify aquifers with high probability of success and informs management efforts.