Tropical groundwater may prove to be a climate-resilient source of freshwater in the tropics as intense rainfall favours the replenishment of these resources, according to a new study published in Environmental Research Letters.
The GroFutures team is working with the Tanzanian Ministry of Water to establish automated, high-frequency monitoring to examine how heavy rains associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) replenish vital groundwater resources.
The team from Sokoine University of Agriculture (Japhet Kashaigili, PhD student Richard Festo) and UCL (Richard Taylor, PhD Student David Seddon) are working with the WamiRuvu Basin Water Office in a small semi-arid basin (Makutapora) in central Tanzania which features a wellfield that supplies the capital city, Dodoma, with safe water. Groundwater withdrawals have risen sharply in recent years and there is considerable uncertainty regarding the sustainability of this supply. Previous research led by members of the GroFutures Team showed that replenishment occurs episodically, on average just 1 year in 5, and usually in association with El Niño events.
In anticipation of the “Godzilla” El Niño event this year, the team is setting up instruments to monitor hourly groundwater levels and river stage (level) to investigate how heavy rains replenish groundwater at the Makutapora Wellfield. These observations will inform not only sustainable management of wellfield itself but also strategies for amplifying replenishment here and in other similar tropical semi-arid locations.
On September 25, 2015, the global development agenda for the next 15 years was set at the United Nations General Assembly following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GroFutures Team members Simon Damkjaer and Richard Taylor comment on the limitations of current metrics used to assess progress toward SDG 6.4 – “to… substantially reducing the number of people living under conditions of water scarcity“. Read their commentary here: the Circle of Blue.
Grofutures is one of the five UPGro Consortium Projects, led by Professor Richard Taylor at University College London (UCL). There is now a comprehensive new website that provides all the latest news and background on the study.
The Objectives of Grofutures are:
Inclusive groundwater governance:
GroFutures will develop an inclusive, participatory framework for groundwater governance in which the views of poor women and men are considered together with the trade-offs associated with groundwater development pathways.
GroFutures will apply new geophysical techniques and compile long-term observations of groundwater levels from our Network of African Groundwater Observatories to substantially improve knowledge of the renewability and volume of groundwater in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Find out more at grofutures.org