Multi-component groundwater management programs

Multi-component groundwater management programs include interventions to address soil and water quality. Such programs can include regular groundwater monitoring, education about risks to groundwater, resources to limit water contamination (e.g., tools for appropriate pesticide and fertilizer application, wastewater disposal, and soil tillage), and water quotas and taxes.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased use of water management practices

  • Improved water quality

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased water conservation

  • Reduced soil erosion

  • Reduced run-off

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that multi-component groundwater management programs increase use of best water management practices (Holsman 2002, ), and improve water quality (, , , ). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects, especially at the catchment level ().

Multi-component groundwater management programs can increase closure of abandoned wells, use of safeguards in pesticide storage and handling, well water testing, nutrient best management, and integrated pest management practices (Holsman 2002, ). Soil and water conservation practices can reduce soil loss, as well as water, pesticide, and excess nutrient runoff (, ), especially from individual plots and fields (). At catchment scale, current programs appear to be less effective, often due to their voluntary nature, insufficient financial rewards, unclear farm costs, or insufficient regulatory pressure and monitoring (). Experts suggest that increased monitoring and regulation of these programs at the catchment level could improve their effectiveness (, King County DNR 2005, ).

Inconvenience, ignorance, and cost can be barriers to implementing groundwater management practices. Including educational materials and regulatory enforcement in multi-component programs may overcome such barriers ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

There are a number of groundwater management programs in the US. Examples include state-level programs such as Florida’s Ground Water Program (FL DEP-GWP) and Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources Groundwater Management Program (MN DNR-GMP); as well as regional or municipal programs such as the Sacramento Groundwater Authority’s Groundwater Management Plan (SGA-GMP), the Las Vegas Valley Groundwater Management Program (Las Vegas-GMP), and the King County Groundwater Protection Program in Washington (King County-GPP). 

Non-governmental organizations can also partner to create groundwater management programs that offer education, technical assistance, monitoring services, and outline voluntary steps to reduce water contamination risks, for example the Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP).

Implementation Resources

CDC-Groundwater awareness - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Groundwater awareness week.

NGWA-Stewardship - National Groundwater Association (NGWA). Groundwater stewardship - protection and conservation.

CWC-Bogert 2009 - Bogert R. The watershed stewardship toolkit. Santa Cruz: Coastal Watershed Council (CWC); 2009.

BC-Well protection - British Columbia Ministry of Environmental Water Stewardship Division (WSD). Well protection toolkit.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Holsman 2002 - Holsman RH, Krueger D. The long and short of groundwater education for Michigan farmers. Journal of Extension. 2002;40(1):1FEA4.

Keestra 2012* - Keesstra S, Geissen V, Mosse K, et al. Soil as a filter for groundwater quality. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 2012;4(5):507–16.

Sahrawat 2010* - Sahrawat KL, Wani SP, Pathak P, Rego TJ. Managing natural resources of watersheds in the semi-arid tropics for improved soil and water quality: A review. Agricultural Water Management. 2010;97(3):375–81.

Kay 2009* - Kay P, Edwards AC, Foulger M. A review of the efficacy of contemporary agricultural stewardship measures for ameliorating water pollution problems of key concern to the UK water industry. Agricultural Systems. 2009;99(2-3):67–75.

Kay 2012* - Kay P, Grayson R, Phillips M, et al. The effectiveness of agricultural stewardship for improving water quality at the catchment scale: Experiences from an NVZ and ECSFDI watershed. Journal of Hydrology. 2012;422-23:10–16.

Esteban 2013* - Esteban E, Dinar A. Modeling sustainable groundwater management: Packaging and sequencing of policy interventions. Journal of Environmental Management. 2013;119:93–102.

King County DNR 2005 - Anchor Environmental. King County groundwater protection program: Ambient groundwater monitoring 2001-2004 results. Seattle: King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Water and Land Resources Division (WLR); 2005.

Kreutzwiser 2011* - Kreutzwiser R, de Loë R, Imgrund K, Conboy MJ, Simpson H, Plummer R. Understanding stewardship behaviour: Factors facilitating and constraining private water well stewardship. Journal of Environmental Management. 2011;92(4):1104–14.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

FL DEP-GWP - Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Ground water program.

Las Vegas-GMP - Southern Nevada Water Authority. Groundwater management program.

MN DNR-GMP - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Minnesota DNR groundwater management program.

SGA-GMP - Sacramento Groundwater Authority (SGA). Groundwater management program.

MWSP - Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP). Taking care of our water.

King County-GPP - King County Water and Land Resources Division (WLR). Groundwater protection program.

Date Last Updated

Jun 3, 2015