World Start
  Hydropolitical Vulnerability
TRANSBOUNDARY AQUIFERS

TRANSBOUNDARY AQUIFERS:
DO INTERNATIONAL BORDERS SERVE AS
POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE FLOW BOUNDARIES?

While a substantial body of research has been produced on transboundary waters, transboundary water law, and mitigation of transboundary water conflict, this research has focused almost exclusively on surface water supplies. Groundwater management in the international arena is in its infancy. Few states or countries regulate the use of groundwater. Much of the growth in groundwater use and the “silent trade” of hazardous waste are occurring across international borders. Media reports reveal that the potential for conflict and a greedy "race to the pumps” continues to rise with time. The National Groundwater Association Transboundary Aquifer Interest Group indicates that “designer-water” companies are planning to export groundwater over vast distances for global exportation and economic gain. And the impacts of international trade agreements on local jurisdiction and management of water is just beginning to be recognized.

The hidden nature of groundwater and the lack of international law governing shared aquifers invite misunderstandings leading to conflict. The uncertainty associated with managing a hidden resource requires rethinking of groundwater management as the intensity of development increases with increased need for food security. The simple use of the common property theory is not sufficient to develop general principles for groundwater management. This is because the interaction between hydrogeology and social boundaries makes the common property nature of groundwater less straightforward than is commonly assumed.

Oregon State University is an active participant in this dynamic and multi-faceted arena of groundwater research. Researchers within the Department of Geosciences presented their work at the 2000 meeting of the National Groundwater Association special session on transboundary aquifers, the Valencia International Symposium on Intensive Use of Groundwater held in 2002 in Valencia, Spain, the 2003 CGIAR Challenge Program Baseline Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and at the technical sessions on transboundary aquifers at the 2003 meetings of the Geological Society of America in Seattle, Washington and the National Groundwater Association EXPO in Orlando, Florida.

International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre

Worldwide Hydrogeological Mapping and Assessment Programme (WHYMAP)


 
 
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