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Review: groundwater management practices, challenges, and innovations in the High Plains aquifer, USA—lessons and recommended actions

Revue critique: Pratiques, défis et innovations dans le domaine des de la gestion des eaux souterraines de l’aquifère des Grandes Plaines (High Plains), aux Etats Unis d’Amérique – Leçons et recommandations

Revisión: Prácticas de manejo de aguas subterráneas, desafíos e innovaciones en el acuífero de High Plains, EEUU – Lecciones y acciones recomendadas

评述 : 美国High Plains含水层地下水管理的实践、挑战与创新——教训和建议

Πρακτικές διαχείρισης υπογείων υδάτων, προβληματισμοί, και καινοτομίες στον υδροφόρο ορίζοντα των Υψηλών Πεδιάδων των ΗΠΑ—Μαθήματα και προτεινόμενα μέτρα

Recensão: Práticas de gestão de águas subterrâneas, desafios e aspectos inovadores no aquífero de High Plains, EUA – Lições e recomendações

An Editor’s Message to this article was published on 20 December 2014

Abstract

The US High Plains aquifer, one of the largest freshwater aquifer systems in the world, continues to decline, threatening the long-term viability of the region’s irrigation-based economy. The eight High Plains States take different approaches to the development and management of the aquifer based on each state’s body of water laws that abide by different legal doctrines, on which Federal laws are superposed, thus creating difficulties in integrated regional water-management efforts. Although accumulating hydrologic stresses and competing demands on groundwater resources are making groundwater management increasingly complex, they are also leading to innovative management approaches, which are highlighted in this paper as good examples for emulation in managing groundwater resources. It is concluded that the fragmented and piecemeal institutional arrangements for managing the supplies and quality of water are inadequate to meet the water challenges of the future. A number of recommendations for enhancing the sustainability of the aquifer are presented, including the formation of an interstate groundwater commission for the High Plains aquifer along the lines of the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basins Commissions in the US. Finally, some lessons on groundwater management that other countries can learn from the US experience are outlined.

Résumé

Le niveau piézométrique de l’aquifère des Grandes Plaines des Etats Unis d’Amérique, un des plus grand système aquifère d’eau douce au niveau mondial, continue de décliner, menaçant la viabilité économique de la région basée sur l’irrigation, sur le long terme. Les huit états des Grandes Plaines ont différentes approches concernant l’exploitation et la gestion de l’aquifère sur la base des lois sur l’eau en vigueur propre à chaque état, auxquelles se surimposent les lois fédérales, créant ainsi des difficultés pour une gestion intégrée de la ressource en eau au niveau régional. Bien que le stress hydrologique et les différentes demandes en compétition sur les ressources en eaux souterraines mènent à une gestion de l’eau souterraine de plus en plus difficile, ils conduisent également à développer des approches de gestion innovantes, qui sont décrites dans cet article, en tant que bons exemples d’initiatives pour la gestion de la ressource en eaux souterraines. En conclusion, la fragmentation des arrangements institutionnels pour la gestion de l’alimentation en eau et de la qualité de l’eau sont inadaptés pour faire face aux défis du futur concernant l’eau. Un certain nombre de recommandations pour améliorer la gestion durable de l’aquifère est présenté, y compris la constitution d’une commission « eaux souterraines » intra-étatique pour l’aquifère des Grandes Plaines selon les lignes directrices des commissions de bassins des rivières Delaware et Susheahanna des Etats-Unis d’Amérique. En fin, des leçons concernant la gestion des eaux souterraines dont d’autres pays pourront s’inspirer sur la base de l’expérience des Etats-Unis d’Amérique sont également décrites.

Resumen

El acuífero de High Plains en los EEUU, uno de los sistemas acuíferos más grandes de agua dulce en el mundo, continua declinando, amenazando la viabilidad a largo plazo de la economía basada en la irrigación de la región Los ocho Estados de las High Plains States tienen diferentes enfoques para el desarrollo y manejo basado en el cuerpo de leyes relativas al agua de cada estado que se atienen a diferentes doctrinas jurídicas, en las cuales se superponen las leyes federales, creando así dificultades en el esfuerzo integrado del manejo regional del agua. A pesar que las exigencias hidrológicas acumuladas y las demandas competitivas sobre los recursos de aguas subterránea están haciendo que el manejo sea de una complejidad creciente, ellos están también conduciendo a enfoques de manejo innovativo, que son resaltados en este trabajo como buenos ejemplo para emular el manejo de los recursos de aguas subterráneas. Se concluye que la disposición institucional fragmentada y poco sistemática para el manejo del abastecimiento y calidad del agua son inadecuadas para satisfacer los desafíos del agua en el futuro. Se presentan algunas recomendaciones para enriquecer la sustentabilidad del acuífero, incluyendo la formación de una comisión interestatal de las aguas subterráneas para el acuífero de High Plains siguiendo los lineamientos de las Comisiones de las cuencas de los ríos Delaware y Susquehanna en EEUU. Finalmente, se delinean algunas lecciones sobre el manejo de aguas subterráneas que otros países pueden aprender a partir de las experiencias de EEUU.

摘要

美国High Plains含水层是世界上最大的淡水含水层系统之一, 但其持续退化, 威胁到该区以灌溉为基础的经济模式的长期发展能力。High Plains平原上的八个州依照各自的水法 (以联邦法律为基础, 依不同法律原则制定) , 采取不同方法对含水层进行开发和管理, 导致区域水资源统一管理上的困难。虽然不断增加的供水压力和地下水资源的竞争需求使地下水管理日益复杂化, 但也促进了管理方法的创新。本文对此重点介绍, 作为地下水管理的良好范例。结果表明, 零散的、分片的供水、水质管理制度不足以应对未来的水资源挑战。为提高含水层的可持续性, 提出了若干建议, 包括仿效美国Delaware及Susquehanna 河流域委员会的做法成立High Plains含水层的州际地下水委员会。最后概述了美国地下水管理的一些经验, 可供其它国家借鉴。

Περίληψη

Ο Υδροφόρος ορίζοντας των Υψηλών Πεδιάδων των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών, ένας απο τους μεγαλύτερους του κόσμου, συνεχίζει να εξαντλείται απειλώντας την μακροπρόθεσμη βιωσιμότητα της επί αρδεύσεως βασιζομένης οικονομίας της περιοχής. Οι οκτώ Πολιτείες των Υψηλών Πεδιάδων προσεγγίζουν διαφορετικά την ανάπτυξη και διαχείριση του υδροφόρου ορίζοντα, βασιζόμενες στους νόμους περί υδάτων κάθε Πολιτείας που συμμορφώνονται με διαφορετικά νομικά δόγματα, επί των οποίων επιθέτονται οι ομοσπονδιακοί νόμοι, ούτως δημιουργώντας δυσκολίες στις προσπάθειες ολοκληρωτικής διαχείρισης των υδάτων της περιοχής. Αν και οι συσσωρευόμενες υδρολογικές πιέσεις και οι συναγωνιζόμενες απαιτήσεις επί των υπογείων υδάτινων πόρων κάνουν τον διαχειρισμό των υπογείων υδάτων όλο και περισσότερο περίπλοκο, όμως οδηγούν και σε καινοτόμες προσεγγίσεις για την διαχείριση των υπογείων υδάτινων πόρων, οι οποίες τονίζονται στο άρθρο αυτό σαν καλά παραδείγματα προς μίμηση. Συμπεραίνεται οτι οι υφιστάμενες κατακερματισμένες και αποσπασματικές θεσμικές ρυθμίσεις για τη διαχείριση της ποσότητας και ποιότητας των υδάτινων πόρων είναι ανεπαρκείς για την αντιμετώπιση των μελλοντικών υδατικών προβλημάτων. Στην εργασία αυτή παρουσιάζονται διάφορες συστάσεις για την ενίσχυση της αειφορίας του υδροφόρου ορίζοντα των Υψηλών Πεδιάδων, συμπεριλαμβανομένου και του σχηματισμού μιας διαπολιτειακής επιτροπής παρόμοιας με τις επιτροπές των λεκάνων απορροής των ποταμών Ντέλαγουεαρ και Σασκουεχάννα στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. Τελικά, περιγράφονται εν συντομία κάποια μαθήματα σχετικά με τη διαχείριση των υπογείων υδάτων που άλλες χώρες μπορούν να μάθουν από την εμπειρία των ΗΠΑ.

Resumo

O aquífero de High Plains, nos EUA, um dos maiores sistemas aquíferos de água doce do mundo, continua em rebaixamento, ameaçando a viabilidade a longo prazo da economia agrícola da região que se baseia na irrigação. Os oito Estados de High Plains têm tido diferentes abordagens quanto à exploração e à gestão do aquífero, com base nas diferentes leis de água de cada um dos Estados que advogam diferentes doutrinas legais, sobre as quais se impõem as leis federais, criando por isso dificuldades nos esforços integrados de gestão regional dos recursos hídricos. Apesar da acumulação dos stresses hidrológicos e das exigências concorrenciais sobre os recursos de água subterrânea terem tornado a gestão das águas subterrâneas crescentemente complexa, também se observa que esta situação tem conduzido a medidas de gestão inovadoras, que são destacadas nesta comunicação como bons exemplos a serem seguidos em gestão de águas subterrâneas. Conclui-se que os programas de acção institucional fragmentados e graduais destinados à gestão do abastecimento e da qualidade da água não são adequados para ir ao encontro dos desafios de gestão da água no futuro. Apresenta-se um conjunto de recomendações para melhorar a sustentabilidade actual do aquífero, incluindo a criação de uma comissão interestadual de águas subterrâneas para o aquífero de High Plains coincidente com os limites das Comissões de Bacia Hidrográfica dos rios Delaware e Susquehanna nos EUA. Por fim, são elencadas algumas lições sobre a gestão de águas subterrâneas para que outros países possam aprender através da experiência dos EUA.

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Acknowledgements

Three anonymous reviewers offered constructive comments that helped improve this manuscript. In addition, a number of colleagues and friends offered useful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript that also helped to improve it. In particular, I would like to thank S. Stover of the Kansas Water Office; T.N. Narasimhan of the University of California-Berkeley; M. Dealy of the Kansas Geological Survey and formerly Manager of the Equus Beds Groundwater Management District No. 2; J. Peck of the University of Kansas School of Law; and R. Buchanan, C. Evans, and A. Macfarlane of the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS). B. Wilson (Geohydrology Data Manager, KGS) and R. Mace (Texas Water Development Board) provided well hydrograph and other data from which Figs. 2 and 3 were composed. Water Managers S. Stover, S. Falk (Groundwater Management District No. 5), and R. Mace readily contributed answers to my questions, which helped to further improve this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marios Sophocleous.

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A comment to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10040-014-1215-0.

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Sophocleous, M. Review: groundwater management practices, challenges, and innovations in the High Plains aquifer, USA—lessons and recommended actions. Hydrogeol J 18, 559–575 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-009-0540-1

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Keywords

  • Groundwater over-abstraction
  • Tragedy of the commons
  • Groundwater management
  • Water-resources conservation
  • USA