As surface water resources become fully exploited in many river basins worldwide, groundwater is increasingly exploited by cities, industry, and agriculture. Groundwater is key to agriculture and supplies 38% of irrigated areas worldwide and contributes 43% of its water consumption. Likewise, it is estimated that groundwater supplies domestic water to at least 50% of the world population.
But from Morocco to China, California to Chile, the water levels in major aquifers are dropping at alarming rates, with little evidence of solutions to this unsustainable evolution. About 1.7 billion people are believed to live in areas where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat from overexploitation. Nearly a third of the world's largest aquifers are being depleted faster than they can be replenished. Unsustainable groundwater use is therefore threatening the key role of groundwater in agricultural and human use and the crucial buffer it provides in times of water shortages.
In contrast, other groundwater resources (typically in so-called heterogeneous environments) are poorly known and little exploited and have potential for further development.
G-Eau’s 'Groundwater team' is devoted to exploring the physical, technical, institutional and socio-political conditions that promote the sustainable use of groundwater resources. Its interdisciplinary research addresses both thematic and cross-cutting issues such as:
- Aquifer co-management between users and the state
- Groundwater demand Management
- Groundwater and groundwater-dependant ecosystems
- Managed aquifer recharge (MAR)
- Groundwater understanding and modelling of hydrogeological processes
- Groundwater quality in anthropogenic regions
- Surface water-groundwater interactions
- Coastal aquifers / intrusion
The team's main research activities are concentrated in France (including FWI) and Europe, Brazil, the Maghreb, the Middle-East, India and the lower Mekong Basin, with occasional collaborations in countries such as Chile or Australia. A focus on the specificity of semi-arid areas is due to the fact that many activities are carried out in the Mediterranean area and in the Sahel.