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Groundwater level data are key for integrated solutions


Alumni in Water, Energy and Climate


Adequate groundwater levels are becoming rare worldwide. Large-scale extraction is causing subsidence and salinisation, and has major consequences. No wonder it was busy at water level data specialist and NWP member Van Essen Instruments’ stand at Aquatech at the Amsterdam International Water Week last week. Peter Westerhuis, International Distribution Manager, is feeling the growing urgency of the groundwater situation.

‘We produce and sell measuring equipment to monitor groundwater levels. This is mainly done to identify long term trends. Hydrologists and policymakers need our data to come up with solutions and to develop policies.

The best-known examples of the consequences of uncontrolled groundwater extraction are cities that are slowly sinking. Actually, there are also cities such as Jakarta that are sinking quite fast. Falling groundwater levels can cause problems with drinking water supply, the quality of buildings (for example the rotting of wooden piles that support houses in the Netherlands) and agriculture. In agriculture, falling groundwater can cause salinity which, along with drought, can have major consequences on production.

Increasingly urgent

Measuring the groundwater level is generally a public issue worldwide, and in particular for municipalities, provinces, water authorities, and drinking water companies. Anyone extracting groundwater must generally comply with legislation and put relevant measures in place. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to enforce these rules everywhere. One example is the mining industry which uses a lot of water for processing. In recent years, more and more attention has been paid to measuring groundwater levels, as the problems are becoming increasingly urgent. If groundwater is continuously extracted in areas where it cannot be refilled through infiltration of rainfall, for instance, problems are inevitable. And data is essential to both map the severity of these problems and point to the best direction for sustainable solutions.'

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