Water Resources Management

, Volume 27, Issue 13, pp 4409–4424 | Cite as

Groundwater Resources Sustainability: Past, Present, and Future

  • Larry W. Mays


With the worldwide depletion of groundwater and the intensified use around the world, particularly in many arid and semi-arid regions for irrigation and municipal use, there is no satisfactory approach to groundwater sustainability. The lack of and miss-management of this valuable resource has not only created serious groundwater pollution problems but has created present and/or future water supply problems. This paper does not present a solution, but instead examines economic ideas such as exhaustible resource theory (over exploitation), and optimization methodologies that can incorporate new ideas of groundwater sustainability, population growth constraints, include both short term and long term consequences, and consider multi-objectives. Concepts of groundwater footprint, recharge, and safe yield are discarded as concepts for measuring groundwater sustainability. The concept of developing a sustainability index that could also be used within the context of optimization is introduced. Also the concepts of traditional knowledge are discussed with the emphasis on the use of these methodologies for both developed and developing regions of the world to achieve groundwater sustainability.


Groundwater management Optimization Recharge Safe yield Sustainability Traditional knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Civil and Environmental Engineering Group, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built EnvironmentArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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