As groundwater extraction increases worldwide, generating a range of economic and ecological impacts, many countries are implementing regulation systems to restrict groundwater use. Their implementation often remains problematic as a result of low compliance in set rules. Key to low compliance is the limited involvement of stakeholders in the setting-up of rules.
At the same time, many factors make stakeholder engagement in groundwater management difficult. Furthermore, as groundwater debates focus mostly on limiting (current) groundwater abstraction, they provide limited scope for solutions bringing benefits to current water abstractors, making them de facto opponents to rule expected to negatively impact them.
In the last decade, there has been a growing recognition of the need to involve stakeholders both in the defining of extraction limits and the design of allocation rules. However, for several reasons, stakeholders’ engagement in GW management remains extremely difficult in practice.
INCLUSIVE – a 3-year project funded by Belmont Forum, brings together partners from 4 countries (France, US, Taiwan and Russia) in the consortium led by BRGM (France) titled ‘Stakeholder-supported decision making for the conjunctive management of soil and groundwater: a pre-requisite for sustainable long-term groundwater management’
Main objective of the INCLUSIVE project is to demonstrate that well-designed stakeholder processes can deliver socially-accepted management rules with higher chances of been complied with, thereby enhancing groundwater long-term sustainability. We focus on how effective stakeholder involvement impacts stakeholder groundwater literacy, develops capacity to think long-term and capture trade-offs, and contributes to developing innovative rules.
We also investigate how a paradigm shift from narrowly defined groundwater management (limiting water abstraction) to conjunctive soil and groundwater management (managing “net water extraction” by bringing attention to (water) retention and recharge, including nature-based solutions) gives more chances to successful stakeholder process outcomes.
Structure of the project
The general flow of our work in this project would be a coordination of activities (Work Product 1) to develop a vetted, science-based framework increasing and assessing social learning about groundwater and critical zone systems to they can be more effectively managed from a common scientific basis (Work Product 2).
Several case studies from four countries (France, US, Taiwan, and Russia) will be used to examine the applicability of this framework for a variety of national and local conditions, scales, and legal contexts. These case studies will include a review of these local histories, conditions, and contexts (Work Product 3) and experiences bring local variants of participatory processes to the development of integrated regional water management focusing on the management of depleted groundwater and groundwater-dependant ecosystems. These local experiences will be through workshops, discussions, and surveys with local and regional water users, stakeholders, water agencies, and regulators (Work Product 4).
There will then be a synthesis of experiences, findings, and implications to offer lessons for groundwater management applicable to basins in these countries and globally for a wide range of conditions (Work Product 5). Results from all these activities will build local stakeholder participatory capacity, and hopefully improve local regulatory processes, and will be disseminated in reports, journal papers, and blog posts (Work Product 6).