Groundwater, the hidden component of the water cycle, traditionally receives less attention than surface water from both the scientific community and policy makers, due to it being "out of sight, out of mind". However, this precious resource is inextricably linked to the maintenance of natural ecosystems and human well-being. Groundwater has always been part of the lives of worldwide communities: irrigated agriculture is primarily sustained by groundwater resources, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions; holy wells and sacred springs are part of our global cultural heritage, while disagreement over groundwater resources have previously resulted in turmoil and national/transboundary conflicts. These obvious interconnections, however, are neglected in favour of the development of sectorial approaches to groundwater resource assessment.
Socio-hydrogeology has recently been proposed as an effective approach to addressing complex groundwater-related issues in an increasingly holistic and integrated manner. By focusing on the reciprocity between humans and groundwater, it aims to explore and understand their dynamic interactions and feedbacks with a final goal of developing transdisciplinary solutions for transdisciplinary problems. Due to the more "personal" (i.e., individual household/community supplies) and local nature of groundwater in many instances, socio-hydrogeology seeks to understand individuals and communities as a primary source, pathway and receptor for potable groundwater supplies, including the role of local knowledge, beliefs, risk perception, tradition/history, and consumption. In essence, the “socio” in socio-hydrogeology embodies sociology, including social, cognitive, behavioural and socio-epidemiological science.
For this session we encourage contributions from diverse fields, including:
• Examples of socio-hydrogeological assessments (e.g., participatory monitoring, stakeholder engagement, public participation, citizen science)
• Integration of “non-expert” knowledge and experience within quantitative and qualitative hydrogeological studies
• Challenges and opportunities arising from the integration of hydrogeology and social sciences
• Social and political approaches to water resources research
• Groundwater geoethics and national/transboundary conflicts
• Attempts to integrate behavioural, experiential or knowledge-based data with hydrogeological/health risk assessment models
• Educational goals for future socio-hydrogeologists