The study provides a comprehensive picture of groundwater uses and its economic value at a country level. It also shows the role of groundwater irrigation and its economic significant compared to surface irrigation. The analysis of the economic value of water is undertaken at a municipality level and over the period 2000-2008, thus allowing for spatial and temporal trends to be identified.
Lucia De Stefano, Water Observatory-Botin Foundation/Universidad Complutense de Madrid
groundwater, accounting, economic uses
The study provides a comprehensive picture of groundwater uses and its economic value at a country level. It also shows the role of groundwater irrigation and its economic significant compared to surface irrigation. The analysis of the economic value of water is undertaken at a municipality level and over the period 2000-2008, thus allowing for spatial and temporal trends to be identified. This study is supported by an overview of the characteristics of the Spanish groundwater resources (available resources, and their qualitative and quantitative status), based on data collected by the River Basin Authorities as part of the water planning process undertaken under the European Water Framework Directive.
The overview of the available groundwater resources, their uses and their economic value at a country level has been undertaken for Spain (over 700 groundwater bodies). This solution could be implemented for any country with a good level of groundwater-related data availability.
The project was initiated by the Water Observatory of the Botin Foundation in collaboration with the Spanish Geological Service (IGME). Both organizations were involved since the onset of the project. The Water Observatory took care of the water accounting and estimation of the economic value of groundwater uses, while IGME was in charge of providing an overview of the available groundwater resources and their status, mainly using the information collected for the new Spanish River Basin Plans.
What are the available groundwater resources in Spain and what is their quantative and chemical status?
What are the main uses of groundwater in Spain and what is their economic value?
How realible are the data that we use for water planning?
Having at good knowledge of the physical resource and its current uses is a basic pre-requisite for managing it with equity and efficiency. Knowing the economic value of its main uses provides essential hints for understanding the dynamics among users, between users and other stakeholders and between users and water managers.
The key outputs of this solution are: a. An overview of existing groundwater bodies and their status at a country level b. A snapshot of groundwater uses at a country level c. The analysis of the economic value of crops irrigated with groundwater.
This type of analysis is of relevance to groundwater governance because it makes it possible for policy makers, water practitioners and scientists to frame local water problems into a ‘bigger picture’. In this way, they can:
a) Better understand interlinkages, similarities and differences between challenges at different scales or at the same scale but in different regions;
b) Identify possible links between the evolution of groundwater use and other water-related phenomena like the creation of groundwater
This solution can continue to deliver tangible impacts in terms of raising awareness of the strategic role of groundwater in a country. Ideally, the analysis undertaken as part of this solution should be updated and refined over time.
The key outputs produced by this solution are data to inform decision-makers and scientists. The use of those key outputs can be quantified by monitoring how many times they are quoted or mentioned in existing policy and scientific documents.
A clear indicator of success would be the decision by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Environment to elaborate a Groundwater White Book (the former one was published in 1995). Another indicator of success would be that the same Ministry decides to: a. revise and upgrade the existing databases about water sources and irrigated land at a country level b. committ to keep the results of this solution updated and accessible to the public c. implement a centralized webpage where any citizen can access almost ‘real time’ data about the status of groundwater.
This solution is of interest for policy makers, water practitioners and scientists Possibly the most interested ones would be policy makers and water practictioners since because it helps them to frame their work into a ‘bigger picture’ and assess the importance of groundwater resources that they have to manage.
To upscale this solution to a regional level (several countries) it is necessary to undertake a similar study in each country of the region of interest. In each country is necessary have access to good quality data about groundwater resources (available resources, their status and uses) and high resolution data about the geographical distribution and economic value of key groundwater uses (as it is agriculture in Spain).
This solution requires spending a good amount of time gathering data and double-checking their consistency in different sources and over time. For that, the collaboration of the organizations owning data about groundwater status and uses is crucial.
The Water Observatory of the Botin Foundation plans to work on refining and – when new data will be available – updating this solution. The solution is being complemented by in-depth studies of groundwater in strategic Spanish river basins. This will make it possible to find new keys to better interpret the country-wide study.
Lucia De Stefano, Departamento de Geodinámica, Facultadad de Ciencias Geológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, c/ Antonio Novais, s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain. email: email@example.com