Quality

Ensuring good quality of Europe’s groundwater remains a challenge for all EU member states despite current legislation. In particular the ecological impacts on groundwater fauna are largely unknown with uncertain consequences for drinking water supply. We investigate anthropogenic stressors (e.g. pollutants, temperature) and their ecological impacts in order to test and develop groundwater quality indicators for continuous monitoring.

Quantity

Groundwater is the most important drinking water source in Europe. Its quantity, however, dropped in the past hot and dry years in many regions. This observation is the result of a combination of climate change effects and anthropogenic water use patterns. We investigate their combined effects on groundwater availability and the inherent uncertainties in order to inform local and pan-European groundwater management.

Conflicts

Different types of groundwater use, for instance for drinking water supply, for irrigation, and agricultural nutrient input, are increasingly contested. Conflicts also arise between groundwater provisioning rural areas and consuming cities. We analyse conflicts around groundwater with a particular focus on embedded power relations and inequalities in groundwater governance.

Institutions

Rules for using groundwater have emerged over centuries and originate in times of less stress on the resource as compared to today. Moreover, the invisibility of the resource facilitates unruly use. Against this background, restrictions on groundwater use are difficult to implement. We investigate the underlying cultural dimensions of unregulated groundwater extractions in selected European case studies.