09.08.2017 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

EU and UNESCO organizes Workshop on “Strategic Planning for Groundwater”

Trainee in a workshop applies what he has been trained on.

Padova, Italy, July 25-26, 2017- the European Union and UNESCO organized a workshop on “Strategic planning for groundwater”, in the context of the EU-funded project entitled “Advanced Survey of Hydro-geological Resources in Iraq -  Phase II (ASHRI-2)”. The workshop delivered introductory planning courses on sustainable management of groundwater resources during which Iraqi delegates identified priority areas for having ASHRI-2 management tools and methodologies (e.g. the so-called "Geofia-Web Portal") applied in order to be further built upon.

The workshop, designed for directors, hydrogeologists and geologists tasked with daily decision-making, aimed to (1) revisit basics of management tools on groundwater resources and (2) elaborate specific action-plans which the Ministry of Water Resources in Baghdad and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and continue to utilize, deploying ASHRI-2 tools for advancing their hydro-administrative capacity towards a sustainable management of groundwater resources.

The courses introduced internationally best practiced approaches on the management of water resources, such as water balance vs water stress, and illustrated lessons learnt via experience made by MENA countries with special respect to applicability and suitability. The courses concluded with practical exercises during which the Iraqi delegates prioritized areas to deploy and capitalize on tools provided through the ASHRI-2 project, which can be advanced somewhat further in the near future and utilized to:

l   Develop groundwater recharge protection plans as there is no groundwater protection zones definded, including respective recharge areas (e.g. the northern area of Erbil, Western Desert and Alteeb/the Iranian border, etc). Groundwater resources show drastic over-exploitation due to a lack of regional and national information available. The ASHRI-2 web portal and its associated management tools provide valuable means to manage recharge areas and protection zones in a more sustainable manner;

l  Characterize strategic aquifers in order to sustainably balance seasonal demand and supply of groundwater in conjunction with surface water availability. ASHRI-2 tools can be used to strategize use of untapped groundwater resources, create vulnerability maps, and provide various strategic scenarios for sustainable management of water resources; and

l  Institutionalize compliance mechanisms on monitoring, as to date proper monitoring plans are lacking, alongside with legal provisions regulating the groundwater protection zoning. ASHRI-2 tools can - for instance - be upgraded for overlaying water resources baseline data with socio-economic information, plus physiographic conditions for an applied change in monitoring of natural and anthropogenic impacts on water resources.

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