A comprehensive overview is provided of processes and challenges related to Mediterranean groundwater resources and associated changes in recent decades. While most studies are focused thematically and/or geographically, this paper addresses different stages of groundwater exploitation in the region and their consequences. Examples emphasize the complex interactions between the physical and social dimensions of uses and evolution of groundwater. In natural conditions, Mediterranean groundwater resources represent a wide range of hydrogeological contexts, recharge conditions and rates of exploitation. They have been actively exploited for millennia but their pseudo-natural regimes have been considerably modified in the last 50 years, especially to satisfy agricultural demand (80% of total water consumption in North Africa), as well as for tourism and coastal cities. Climate variability affects groundwater dynamics but the various forms of anthropization are more important drivers of hydrological change, including changes in land use and vegetation, hydraulic works, and intense pumpings. These changes affect both the quantity and quality of groundwater at different scales, and modify the nature of hydrogeological processes, their location, timing, and intensity. The frequent cases of drastic overexploitation illustrate the fragility of Mediterranean groundwater resources and the limits of present forms of management. There is no easy way to maintain or recover sustainability, which is often threatened by short-term interests. To achieve this goal, a significant improvement in hydrogeological knowledge and closer collaboration between the various disciplines of water sciences are indispensable.
Hydrogeology Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 12, 2017
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