IWRA Webinar N°47

Success in Inventorying, Measuring, and Monitoring Groundwater September

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This IWRA Groundwater Taskforce webinar on “Success Stories in Inventorying, Measuring, and Monitoring Groundwater” was very popular, with over 350 people registered to discuss positive outcomes in groundwater management.

Anita Milman discussed the importance of focusing on positive outcomes for groundwater as a key to breaking patterns of inertia and to share common ways to address unique groundwater problems.

Robert Kalin focused on framing the diverse speakers and their stories as ways to better understand the complexities and challenges inherent in groundwater research and management.

Kun Liu looked at the history of groundwater monitoring in China, considering the ways that infrastructure investments have resulted in meaningful data that can be used both by the government as well by the public. This data provides key insights into the planning and operation of additional developments, allowing them to be more efficient and better adapted to their needs and uses.

Eric Averett discussed a new project that he is working with to bring a greater cross-use of data between regulatory agencies creating a “data utopia.” This project was born out of difficulties and frustrations with silo’ed water level data which he has seen throughout his career. The non-standard data and formats used today increase the workload for updating new information and decreases the confidence that researchers and planners can put in the data. The goal is to simplify the sharing of data, in a standard format, between those who collect the data and those different stakeholders who need to utilize this information for management and planning.

Gift Wanangwa discussed an innovative project in Malawi to utilize a simple application on smartphones to help democratize the collection of surface water and groundwater data. This application makes collection easier and faster for staff and those who train. This information was simply recorded and easily uploaded to the cloud where it could be accessed by ministerial staff for their planning. Further, this information could be plotted on a map to provide a more graphical representation. While the system was not unfailable, it was helpful in making progress towards mapping and groundwater management. However, due to having a single funder, there is the risk that the project may not be continued or expanded to needed areas.

The panel discussed and agreed that the challenges for data collection and data management pose can be daunting. Individual locations and the data required by regulations or stakeholders can make generalities counterproductive. But, success stories like the ones shared during this webinar highlight how different approaches and ideas can be shared and encourage progress.

This IWRA Groundwater Task force webinar on “Success Stories in Inventorying, Measuring, and Monitoring Groundwater” was another success for this webinar series. The event included; Kun Liu, Eric Averett, Gift Wanangwa, Anita Milman and Robert Kalin.

Topics included:

  • Success Story — The China National Groundwater Monitoring Project: Construction, Operation, and Outcomes for Now. The project, which was completed in 2019, includes over 10,000 monitoring locations that collect and transmit real-time data on underground water levels, temperatures and quality.   
  • Success Story — Path to Decisions Informed by Data: California Water Data Consortium’s Groundwater Pilot Project. In California, a significant amount of water data is collected and retained by state regulatory and local water agencies.  The California Water Data Consortium, working with a variety of interests, is seeking ways to make this data more readily available to stakeholders and decision makers  to inform decisions regarding regulatory, policy, and overall water management within the state.
  • Success Story — The mWater Management Information System: Inventorying Water Supply Assets Across Malawi. In 2019 Malawi completed mapping of all rural points across the country and began collecting similar data for urban and peri-urban water points. The end result is mapping of every water point and assessment of its current condition. Data stored in the mWater Management Information System includes information on water point functionality and water quality. 
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Panelists:

  • Kun Liu, Ph.D. Vice Director, Department of Water Quality Analysis and Evaluation, China Institute of Geo-Environmental Monitoring, China Geological Survey, Ministry of Natural Resources, People’s Republic of China
  • Eric Averett, CEO of Homer LLC and Board Member of the California Water Data Consortium, California, USA
  • Gift Wanangwa, Coordinator of the Ministerial Task Force, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development,  Malawi
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Presentations and recording to be uploaded soon. 

IWRA Webinars constitute an additional resource designed to help our members, academics, dedicated practitioners, and policy professionals further explore these and other timely themes engaging in fruitful discussions, also aligned with the international water agenda and in close collaboration with key partners.