Many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) depend on an adequate quantity and quality of water. These include SDG 6 (‘clean water and sanitation for all’), in particular, and also many other goals related to, for example, health and well-being (SDG 3) and food security (SDG 2), as well as the terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15) and marine resources (SDG 14).
Groundwater is critical for ensuring safe and secure water supplies for billions of people in urban and rural areas. It is also an important source of water for irrigation to produce a sufficient quantity and quality of food for increasing populations. Finally, groundwater is an integral part of ecosystems supporting a healthy environment for people and biomes.
Friends of Groundwater (FoG) – a group of experts in groundwater quality, many affiliated partners of the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP) – have been engaged in the World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA) led by UN Environment (UNEP) since the WWQA inception in 2018. FoG together with WWQA aim to clearly articulate the case of groundwater in a broader exercise of addressing water quality issues to inform science, policy, business and society interfaces at the global scale, which is a key objective of WWQA. WWQA, itself a unique Community of Practice, represents a wide range of outstanding expertise in the area of water quality.
A first milestone output of FoG is the perspective paper titled Assessing groundwater quality: A global perspective – Importance, methods and potential data sources, which was used as input to the 2nd Annual Global Meeting of WWQA on January 27-28, 2021.
The perspective paper addresses the relevance of a global assessment, data and information sources, and related assessment methods to be used for groundwater quality. While some countries have been collecting and reporting national or regional data on groundwater quality, such information is still lacking in other parts of the world. This was similarly reflected in a UN-Water interim SDG 6 report titled Progress on ambient water quality in 2018, in which only a small percentage of countries reported on groundwater quality.
The perspective paper is the first product aimed at better assessing groundwater quality, globally. Information on activities and outputs related to groundwater quality is available via a dedicated groundwater quality portal, recently established by FoG. The portal will soon include a geographic information system (GIS) interface and a reference database related to groundwater quality.
The front page of the groundwater quality portal.