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 communities across the globe: 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 often neglected in favour of sectorial approaches to groundwater resource management.
Socio-hydrogeology has been proposed as an effective approach to addressing complex groundwater-related issues in a more holistic and integrated manner. By focusing on the reciprocity between humans and groundwater, it aims to explore and understand their dynamic interactions with a final goal of developing transdisciplinary solutions for transdisciplinary problems. Due to the more "personal" (i.e., individual household/community suppliy) 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 sciences.
For this session the conveners encourage contributions from diverse fields, including:
• Examples of socio-hydrogeological assessments (participatory monitoring, stakeholder engagement, public participation, citizen science, gender disaggregated data collection)
• Integration of “non-expert” and/or indigenous knowledge within quantitative and qualitative hydrogeological studies
• Challenges and opportunities arising from the transdisciplinary approaches
• Social and political approaches to water resources research
• Groundwater geoethics and HRB approach to IWRM
• National/transboundary conflicts
• Integration of behavioural, experiential or knowledge-based data with hydrogeological/health risk assessments
• Educational goals for future socio-hydrogeologists.