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Water 2018, 10(4), 408; doi:10.3390/w10040408

Groundwater Governance in the Azores Archipelago (Portugal): Valuing and Protecting a Strategic Resource in Small Islands

IVAR—Research Institute for Volcanology and Risk Assessment and Department of Geosciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of the Azores, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
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Received: 24 January 2018 / Revised: 25 March 2018 / Accepted: 26 March 2018 / Published: 31 March 2018
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Abstract

Studies on groundwater governance status at EU national and river basin district levels are rare, hindering lessons learned at each administrative scale to be shared. Groundwater is a common-pool resource of strategic significance in the Azores archipelago (Portugal), thus calling for sustainable development. Groundwater governance emerged in the last decades as a path to sustainable resources management, and the present paper characterizes the current status of governance in the Azores, where management is pursued according to a vertically-integrated system. A survey made among 43 specialists showed that despite the instrumental role of groundwater for water supply there is a need to increase awareness on groundwater valuing and protection. The application of benchmark criteria to evaluate the groundwater governance state-of-art shows that technical capacities are diminishing governance effectiveness due to the lack of quantitative data, and further enforcing of the groundwater legal framework to the specificities of the Azores is needed. The empowerment of the government agency being responsible for the groundwater management is also envisaged. The failure to account for the economic dimension of the groundwater governance, the insufficient development of cross-sectorial approaches, and the unsuccessful public participation are other weaknesses on the groundwater governance in the Azores. View Full-Text
Keywords: groundwater; governance; water management; water planning; Azores groundwater; governance; water management; water planning; Azores
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Cruz, J.V.; Soares, N. Groundwater Governance in the Azores Archipelago (Portugal): Valuing and Protecting a Strategic Resource in Small Islands. Water 2018, 10, 408.

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