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Sustainability of Groundwater in a Changing World

Groundwater constitutes the overwhelming majority of the freshwater resources available for humankind to use, and yet because it is largely invisible it remains relatively ignored and misunderstood by policy makers. Virtually ubiquitous, groundwater is in many ways a more useful resource than surface water, though natural variations in geology and climate mean that careful planning is necessary if it is to be used sustainably. Connectivity is a keyword in considering the sustainability of groundwater exploitation: connectivity with the atmosphere (just how much of the groundwater we use is “fossil” recharge?); connectivity within and between aquifers; connectivity with surface waters, often transcending surface catchment boundaries; and conceptual connectivity between groundwater use and the consumption of energy and materials. While alarming tales of groundwater over-use are not difficult to find, the extraordinary resilience of many aquifer systems also gives great grounds for hope in many parts of the world. But we do need to begin to make sure those policymakers finally get to grips with the intriguing “connectivities” of groundwater.


Professor Paul L Younger FREng, DL, FICE, C.Eng., FGS, C.Geol.


Paul L Younger is Director of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, based at Newcastle University. A hydrogeologist and environmental engineer by background, he has more than 25 years’ experience of the investigation and exploitation of groundwater, ranging from village water wells in the Andes to some of the deepest onshore boreholes in the UK. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates in both Spain and Peru for his work on sustainable management of groundwater in areas affected by mining, and is author of Groundwater in the Environment: An Introduction (Blackwell 2007).



Event Details

Date: 27 June 2012
Venue: The Geological Society, London
Speaker: Professor Paul L Younger



Naomi Newbold
Tel: 020 7432 0981