Forty Years Of Transboundary Aquifer Cooperation

2 Jan 2019 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
GENEVA, Switzerand

Hydrogeologist Gabriel de los Cobos, Service of Geology, Soil and Waste of the State of Geneva spoke to OOSKAnews on the occasion of the forty year anniversary of transboundary governance of the Geneva Aquifer, "Nappe du Genevois".

Lake Geneva and the Genevois Aquifer provide drinking water for nearly 700,000 inhabitants of the Franco-Genevese region.

The aquifer, shared by the Swiss Canton of Geneva and France's Haute-Savois Department is jointly expolited through ten wells in Switzerland and four wells in France. In the 1960s and 1970s it was identified that the level of the aquifer had dropped because of large and uncoordinated pumping on both sides of the border, prompting consideration of technical solutions to overexploitation of the groundwater resources, to include artificial recharge of the aquifer during winter, when demand is lower, with water from the Arve River. An innovative artificial recharge system became operational in 1980 while, in parallel, organizational, administrative, financial, legal and political mechanisms have been deployed with an aim to achieve transboundary consensus on joint management and protection of the groundwater resources. The Genevois Aquifer is to date one of the few examples of an agreement for local level management of a transboundary aquifer.

In an audio interview with OOSKAnews' David Duncan, de los Cobos describes:

  • The history of cooperation on the Genevois Aquifer and how the political will for cooperation emerged
  • The background to other options that, historically, were considered to address dropping aquifer levels
  • How an aquifer recharge program was considered to be the optimal solution
  • How the aquifer recharge technology works, and the biggest echnology challenges
  • The governance challenges, and how these have been addressed cooperatively
  • The cooperative approach to the Genevois Aquifer an example / model that can be applied to other transboundary aquifers?

For further information on transboundary management of groundwater resources, OOSKAnews readers are referred to the December 2018 edition of the Journal of Hydrology - a Special Issue on International Shared Aquifer Resources Assessment and Management.