Hydrogeology Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 271–274 | Cite as

Groundwater use in developing cities: policy issues arising from current trends

  • Stephen D. Foster
  • Ricardo Hirata
  • Ken W. F. Howard

Context for policy analysis and definition

Growing importance of urban groundwater use

The objective of this essay is to promote dialogue on important policy issues for urban planning and development arising from increased dependence on groundwater for water-supply provision in developing cities. There is much indirect evidence (although no comprehensive data) to substantiate this trend, which is occurring in response to population growth, increasing per capita water use, higher ambient temperatures and reduced security of river intakes (due to quality degradation and climate change) having been facilitated by the modest cost of water wells and the fact that ‘aquifers lie within a well’s length of users’! (Foster et al. 1998).

Where urban centres are underlain and/or surrounded by high-yielding aquifers, this has allowed water utilities to expand mains water-supply incrementally at modest capital cost—usually resulting in better mains water-service levels, lower water-supply prices and...


Groundwater supplies Urban development Urban infrastructure Private groundwater use 

Utilisation de la nappe dans les villes en développement: problèmes de police de l’eau liés aux tendances actuelles

Uso del agua subterránea en ciudades en desarrollo: cuestiones políticas que surgen de las tendencias actuales


Uso de água subterrânea em cidades em desenvolvimento: questões políticas decorrentes das tendências actuais



This essay is a by-product of efforts by the World Bank Groundwater Management Advisory Team (GW-MATE), directed by the first author, to assist various national government agencies in developing nations (most notably those of Brazil and India) to formulate more appropriate policy on urban groundwater use. This work has benefited greatly by its presentation and discussion at the following series of regional or thematic conferences, co-sponsored by the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) : Kampala (Uganda) in June 2008, Hannover (Germany) in October 2008, Natal (Brazil) in November 2008, Bangkok (Thailand) in February 2009 and Bogota (Colombia) in July 2009.


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  4. Foster SSD, Hirata R, Misra S, Garduno H (2010) Urban groundwater use policy: balancing the benefits and risks in developing nations. GW-MATE Strategic Overview Series 3. World Bank, Washington, DC. Cited July 2010
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  7. Zhang L, Kennedy C (2006) Determination of sustainable yield in urban groundwater systems: Beijing, China. J Hydrol Eng 11:21–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen D. Foster
    • 1
  • Ricardo Hirata
    • 2
  • Ken W. F. Howard
    • 3
  1. 1.International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)GoringUK
  2. 2.Universidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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