Groundwater is in most parts of the world an extremely important natural resource, more important than most people realise.
In the first place, groundwater is often the primary source for domestic and industrial water supply. Secondly, it supports agriculture by providing large quantities of irrigation water, especially in zones with rather dry climate where crop production without irrigation is not possible. Thirdly, groundwater plays a key role in keeping wet ecosystems sustainable and sometimes as well in maintaining a suitable environment for human settlement.
To gain full benefit from groundwater, substantial efforts are needed to explore the groundwater systems and to organise their rational exploitation. However, attention is not only required for its exploitation, but as well for controlling a wide gamma of problems related to groundwater. World-wide it is observed that pollution or salination threatens the groundwater's suitability for drinking or for other intended uses; that groundwater is becoming excessively expensive or scarce if the stored volumes are depleted or exhausted; that land subsidence occurs as a consequence of groundwater withdrawal; and that landscapes may turn dry and desolate by the decline of shallow water tables. Most of these problems tend to develop rather slowly, but controlling them is difficult and many of them are practically irreversible. Therefore, it is important to anticipate and recognise such problems in due time and to implement appropriate measures to control or mitigate them without delay.
Many groundwater professionals believe that sharing knowledge and experience on groundwater matters on a world-wide scale is an effective strategy to identify and promote optimal approaches to the assessment, development and management of groundwater resources. This is what the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC) intends to facilitate.