Strategic groundwater management as an adaptation measure

11:15 Wednesday 29 May


Room S11


Henk-Jan Van Alphen (Netherlands) 1; Marjolein Van Huijgevoort (Netherlands) 1; Teun Spek (Netherlands) 2; Jolijn Van Engelenburg (Netherlands) 3; Flip Witte (Netherlands) 1; Bernard Voortman (Netherlands) 4

1 - KWR; 2 - Provincie Gelderland; 3 - Vitens; 4 - Moisture Matters

In this presentation we analyze the potential role of groundwater in adaptation strategies aimed at securing a sufficient freshwater supply in a changing climate. Based on a case study of the Veluwe, the largest groundwater reserve in the Netherlands, we ask: To what extent and how can groundwater resources help to mitigate the short-term and long-term hydrological impacts of climate change at the Veluwe, and what management strategies are needed to utilize this potential?

The data underlying this analysis is both quantitative (climate impacts) and qualitative (management strategies), bringing forward an interdisciplinary perspective on climate change adaptation. Climate data shows that the Veluwe will face shifting percipitation patterns in the coming decade. This will have an effect on groundwater levels as well as on available water for brooks and streams that rely on the groundwater and the impact of water abstractions. Groundwater recharge is determined by precipitation and evapotranspiration, therefore, land use strongly affects the recharge. The analysis shows that both changing percipitation patterns and changes in land use have impact on groundwater levels and the available water for brooks and streams and groundwater abstraction. Based on this analysis, measures have been developed to increase the groundwater availability.

Although there are strong linkages between groundwater levels, surface water availability, land use and groundwater abstraction, the governance of these domains is often divided between different private and public organizations. In this case study we have brought these different organisations together in assessing the risks of climate change and identifying and analysing potential adaptation measures.

Based on the case study research, we conclude that groundwater could play a more leading role in adaptation strategies for freshwater supply, depending on local and regional conditions. We also conclude that these resources need to be carefully managed in order for these adaptation strategies to be sustainable. More precisely, we argue that these management strategies should take into account both the specific, long-term geo-hydrological characteristics of groundwater systems as well as the needs of different actors and sectors dependent on groundwater resources. For that to be the case, the governance of adaptation should reflect the physcial interlinkages between different water and land resources.