10.06.2019 -

Assessing impacts on groundwater

The International Seminar on "Assessment of impacts on groundwater quantity, quality and mitigation" took place in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, 3-7 June 2019. More than 20 experts from the region actively participated in this training. They were selected based on their experience, relevance of the work on the topic and perspectives for the application of the knowledge acquired in their areas of study. The Seminar was organized by UNESCO's International Hydrological Program (IHP) through its GRAPHIC Program, the UNESCO Category II Center on Hydroinformatics (CIH), the Núcleo de Inteligência Territorial (NIT) and the Regional Center for Groundwater Management (CeReGAS).

The countries of South America share important transboundary aquifer systems, one of the largest being the Guaraní aquifer. Given the expansion of urban areas and the regional agricultural frontier, the quality and quantity of groundwater is affected, both by pollution and by reduced recharge.

Within this framework, the main objective of the Seminar was to train technicians and professionals –from the institutional and private sector- in terms of the evaluation of the impact that human activities have on the quantity and quality of groundwater, and its mitigation. The experts, coming from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia, received training divided into theoretical and practical modules, focused on providing updated tools for water resources management.

The opening day of activities included the presentation of projects by the CIH and the NIT, highlighting the Hydrosphere Project, whose objective is to deepen knowledge about the Serra Geral Aquifer System, to improve understanding of the interaction of underground and surface water resources in the Paraná River basin. Likewise, Henrique Chaves - Regional Coordinator of GRAPHIC- held a conference on "Impacts of human activities and climate change for groundwater and its mitigation", through which he presented the technologies that the Program uses to monitor groundwater, and find ways to prevent, mitigate or diminish the negative impacts of climate change.

Finally, John T. Reager - from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory - gave a presentation on the Grace Satellite and the use of its images in the process of estimating the volume and dynamics of groundwater. According to Mr. Reager, NASA's satellites are essential for observing changes in the planet, both natural and anthropogenic. The presented satellite has the characteristic of using the differences in the force of gravity to estimate the variations of mass in groundwater, which makes it a better option - given the limitations of optical sensors-.

The seminar lasted 5 days, with conferences on the evaluation of the impacts and the risk to the amount of groundwater, including the safe production of wells, recovery and discharge; evaluation of impacts and risk to the quality of groundwater, including vulnerability to contamination of aquifers and the potential for contamination.

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