This paper was written by Geert-Jan Nijsten, Nienke Ansems, Neno Kukuric (all IGRAC) and Alice Aureli (UNESCO-IHP) and was awarded the best paper award during the VACI 2016 conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Groundwater is a vital source for drinking water, irrigation, industry and the sustainability of wetlands, springs and river flows. In recent decades, the use of groundwater has increased tremendously. Climate change and continued population growth are likely to result in a further increase in groundwater use. To sustainably manage groundwater a good understanding of the resource and factors affecting the resource is crucial. As many actors have an impact on groundwater it is equally important to provide stakeholders access to information on the resource. Assessing and sharing information on transboundary aquifers provides a particular challenge as it involves cooperation between countries which may have different approaches to assessing groundwater and different data protocols.
A methodology is presented for the assessment of transboundary aquifers; it covers hydro(geo)logical, socio-economical, environmental, legal and institutional aspects of the groundwater systems and transforms those into indicators. Indicators are particularly useful for comparative assessments of multiple aquifers at a regional scale, while the in-depth assessment provides relevant information to develop management actions and governance frameworks at the aquifer level. To facilitate dissemination of assessment results between (international) stakeholders, a web-based Transboundary Aquifers Information Management System (TBA-IMS) has been developed. The TBA-IMS gives users access to thematic maps and underlying data. Functionality to create overlays of thematic maps, to perform map queries and to download additional data and documents enables stakeholders to perform their own analyses in support of sustainable groundwater governance.