2018 Summer Conference : The Science, Management and Governance of Transboundary Groundwater, Fort Worth, Texas (USA), 9-11 July, 2018

Organized by the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) in Forth Worth, Texas, on 9-11 July, 2018, this conference aims to discuss the newest developments in transboundary groundwater research and practice and innovative approaches for developing sustainable governance and management systems, from the local to regional to international scales.

Growing populations and economies will increase competition for water resources around the world. Furthermore, desiccation of surface water supplies due to climate change will not only exacerbate disputes over current water supplies, but also increase pressure on groundwater resources, already stressed in some parts of the world. Since water resources respect no political boundaries ­ sometimes not even intra­national or intra­state boundaries ­ equitable agreements to govern, manage, and protect these resources are essential to the social and economic well­being of all water users. While formal agreements for equitably governing and managing transboundary surface water resources are common and well­understood, the development of similar transboundary groundwater agreements is in its infancy.

There are over 600 transnational aquifers ­ about double the number of transnational river basins. However, while there have been about 3,600 written agreements governing transnational surface water resources in the past 1,200 years, very few agreements deal with transnational aquifers. This situation does not bode well for future harmony in the water resources realm. As for intranational cases, there are already disputes involving transboundary groundwater In the USA. One case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court between the states of Mississippi and Tennessee could have significant domestic ­ and perhaps even international ­ repercussions, depending upon the outcome. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear a case involving two California water districts and a Native American reservation. By doing so, the Court let stand a lower court ruling that allowed groundwater on Native American reservations to be considered a ‘reserved right’. This could have significant impacts on groundwater use and allocation, especially in the Western states.

Disagreements such as the aforementioned threaten to become the rule not only in the USA, but also around the world. Water professionals must act proactively now to develop mechanisms to address, avoid, and resolve such issues. Not only must legal, management, and governance schemes be devised, but so must methods for identifying transboundary aquifers, characterizing their hydrogeologic properties, assessing their sustainability, ensuring prevention of groundwater pollution, developing instruments for management and governance, and protecting groundwater­ dependent ecosystems.

The conference will provide attendees the opportunity to learn about and engage in discussions on The Science, Management and Governance of Transboundary Groundwater. The program will stimulate conversations on innovative approaches for identifying transboundary groundwater resources and the methods to develop sustainable governance and management agreements.

The Conference Planning Committee is seeking abstracts on any and all topics dealing with, or related to, The Science, Management and Governance of Transboundary Groundwater. The term ‘transboundary’ is not limited to ‘transnational’, but refers to situations when groundwater crosses or underlies two or more political jurisdictions, international or not, so that it must be managed as a transboundary resource. Abstracts for both oral and poster presentations are to be submitted online, through https://awrasummerconference.secure-platform.com/a/, by 28 February, 2018.