Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The downstream consequences of depleting groundwater

12.06.2012
Hard lessons from around the American West and Australia could help improve groundwater management and protect ecosystems in California, Stanford University researchers find.

The Water in the West program at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is focusing attention on how groundwater pumping can threaten rivers and ecosystems and, conversely, how creative groundwater management can be a savior during drought.

The program recently released the report, "Instituting Integration," that explores the ways that various American and Australian states and water districts manage and regulate connections between groundwater and surface waters and ecosystems such as rivers, streams, springs and wetlands.

"In many places, over-pumping of groundwater reduces surface-water flows," said report author Rebecca Nelson. "Failing to recognize and address these fundamental connections can place other water users like farmers and cities at risk and can harm fisheries or wetland habitats of migratory waterfowl."

Many jurisdictions manage and regulate surfacewater and groundwater without any recognition of the connections. For instance, California has no legal framework for comprehensively managing the impacts of groundwater pumping. Across most of California, well owners can pump as much as they like with little accountability for the impacts on rivers, other water users and ecosystems. In contrast, other states around the West have developed laws and policies for controlling the impacts of wells on rivers. Australia has gone even further, considering how ecosystems of all kinds are affected by groundwater pumping.

"We have only recently developed the science necessary to understand the extent of this problem," Nelson said. "Now we need to move on to thinking about the law and policy tools we need to deal with this issue. On that score, California is at the rear of the pack."

Stanford researchers have been learning from states throughout the western U.S. and Australia that are dealing with common issues of water scarcity, increasing competition for water, greater reliance on groundwater and fragile ecosystems. Hard lessons have produced a range of creative policy tools to ensure that wells do not inadvertently deplete stream-flow, or damage connected ecosystems, while minimizing economic disruption to those who often rely on groundwater during droughts.

Some western states, which face stressed basins and drying rivers, cap groundwater pumping in high-use areas. New wells are permitted when well owners are able to offset their pumping by conserving water or buying and retiring other water rights. Across the Pacific, a decade-long drought ravaged many river ecosystems in Australia but until recently, little attention was paid to the importance of groundwater to those systems. Now, Australian scientists are preparing to release the country's first national map of groundwater-dependent ecosystems. The map will help decision makers when they consider applications for new wells and formulate new water plans designed to protect these ecosystems into the future.

The Stanford Woods Institute's Water in the West program is collaborating with the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre to gather groundwater experts from around the western United States and Australia for a workshop later this month focused on promising groundwater policy solutions to common challenges and the wisdom of hard groundwater management lessons.

Related Information:

"Instituting Integration" http://www.stanford.edu/group/waterinthewest/cgi-bin/web/sites/default/files/PolicyMakersBrief&WorkingPaper_RNelson.pdf

Comment: Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: cell (650) 721-1881, rjordan@stanford.edu

Mark Shwartz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>