Institutional Issues around Agricultural Land-Use Control for Groundwater Conservation—A Long-Term Perspective
1. Scope of Paper
2. Diffuse Groundwater Pollution Control
2.1. Problem Definition
2.2. Policy Development
- Influencing the choice of crop type and cropping regime;
- Reducing or eliminating the use of agrochemicals (fertilisers and/or pesticides) or controlling the timing of their use;
- Generally moving to less intensive agricultural production or non-agricultural land uses.
2.3. Institutional Obstacles to Policy Implementation
- Reduce nutrient leaching losses from existing cropping practices;
- Ban the sale of a given pesticide because of its high mobility and persistence.
- The legal framework of these directives with its devolution of power to local levels;
- Good communication with farmers and a general acceptance that nitrate pollution from agricultures needs to be addressed.
- A mismatch of responsibilities between agencies, leading to a lack of cooperation and competing policy priorities;
- A notable lack of financial and staff resources for implementation;
- Fragmented farming with a high level of political power in the farming community.
- Advanced water treatment to meet drinking-water quality should be avoided;
- Environmental degradation should be rectified at source;
- Costs should be borne by the polluter .
3. Groundwater Resource Conservation
3.1. Nature of Concerns
3.2. Key Actions for Sustainable Management
- That groundwater is to most an ‘invisible resource’ with much-delayed impacts;
- Perverse agricultural subsidies for water well construction, electrical energy for pumping and crop guarantee prices, which often stimulate irrigated agricultural production regardless of the status of groundwater resources;
- The costs and difficulty of measurement and inadequate monitoring of groundwater.
- Groundwater governance and regulatory provisions, such as abstraction rules and caps, licenses and charges, and conservation zones;
- The promotion of conjunctive use of groundwater and surface-water for adaptive resource management;
- Land-user incentives for groundwater services through agri-environmental stewardship schemes and land ownership/leasing arrangements.
- Empowered legally to address the control of groundwater abstraction and use;
- Adequately staffed (in terms of professional and support personnel) to cope with the regulation of large numbers of individually small groundwater users;
- Equipped at the executive level with understanding of the risks associated with excessive groundwater abstraction and the confusion surrounding irrigation efficiency;
- Resourced financially to undertake the sort of detailed monitoring from which to make early predictions of adverse groundwater trends.
- Raising awareness of the impact of human activities on the environment;
- Bringing together surface water and groundwater into a river basin approach to environmental management;
- Encouraging broader stakeholder involvement in conserving the environment;
- Elaborating ‘best agricultural practice’ guidelines that will reduce (but not eliminate) nitrate leaching rates to groundwater;
- Explicit consideration of pesticide mobility and persistence in groundwater systems during the product registration process to reduce groundwater pollution risk.
- Institutional—the relevant institutions (agriculture, water resources, environmental planning, municipal land-use administration and water-service utilities) often operate in separate ‘silos’, so it is essential to nurture collaboration, both horizontally between sectors and vertically between national and local level;
- Economic —the declaration of resource conservation zones often causes land-values with water well use-rights to rise sharply, often by 200–700% , and the water resource administration will need to resist pressure for illegal water well drilling, while in contrast, groundwater quality protection zones can have the reverse effect by lowering land values because productivity is reduced;
- Social—public awareness needs to be raised for effective policy implementation; otherwise, the ‘public administration’ will tend to opt for ‘business as usual’.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Foster, S.; Chilton, J. Institutional Issues around Agricultural Land-Use Control for Groundwater Conservation—A Long-Term Perspective. Water 2021, 13, 2417. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172417
Foster S, Chilton J. Institutional Issues around Agricultural Land-Use Control for Groundwater Conservation—A Long-Term Perspective. Water. 2021; 13(17):2417. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172417Chicago/Turabian Style
Foster, Stephen, and John Chilton. 2021. "Institutional Issues around Agricultural Land-Use Control for Groundwater Conservation—A Long-Term Perspective" Water 13, no. 17: 2417. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172417