A groundwater-dependent ecosystem (GDE) is a community of micro-organisms, animals and plants, and associated substrates, whose functioning relies on the presence of water under the ground and/or its emergence to the surface. Some GDEs are supported entirely by groundwater while others also receive water from different sources, but the groundwater contribution is critical as regards water chemistry to nourish certain species, and provide stable water temperature and absence of sediment load.
Urbanisation is the predominant global phenomenon of our time, and groundwater from springs and wells has been a vital source of urban water-supply since the first settlements. In the modern era, groundwater capture using deep waterwells with submersible electric pumps has enabled major growth for urban use worldwide. Factors influencing groundwater use are resource reliability for municipal supply, resource accessibility for private supply, reducing river-intake security with pollution, and relatively low waterwell construction costs. The large natural storage of most aquifer systems has made them a vital resource for assuring water-supply security during past droughts and will be particularly critical in future climate-change adaptation.
The naturally high microbiological and chemical quality of groundwater, captured at springheads and in shallow galleries and dugwells, has been vital for human survival, wellbeing and development from our earliest history – and remains so today. The purity of groundwater, coupled with its mineral content, is such that many springs historically have been attributed medicinal value.
Groundwater (contained in sediments and rocks) constitutes the planet’s predominant reserve of fresh water, commonly with storage times from decades to centuries and millennia. Groundwater resources thus provide an excellent ‘buffer’ against the effects of climate variability on surface-water supplies, because of the generally large and widely-distributed storage reserves of aquifer systems. But questions arise as to how naturally resilient are groundwater reserves themselves to global change, and whether we are doing enough to help conserve and protect them.
The generation, consumption and management of energy interacts with the groundwater domain in surprisingly varied ways. In consequence specific inputs from hydrogeological science are needed to understand these linkages, and for risk assessment and effective management of the interactions. To facilitate discussion it is helpful to classify the interactions under the following headings: sustainable exploitation of renewable energy resources; groundwater impacts of non-renewable energy sources; energy consumption for groundwater pumping and use.
On March 23-24, 2017, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) is offering a training course on applications of groundwater geochemistry. The course is worth 1.45 CEUs. See the website for more information or read the summary copied below: