Groups on groundwater

Apart from the bilateral and multilateral projects and programmes already described, there are numerous entities that in one way or another contribute to worldwide exchange of information, knowledge and experience on groundwater. While there are too many to mention all, a number of the key international actors and programmes are reviewed here.

International Association of Hydrogeologists

The International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) is a professional association that was founded in 1956 at the International Geological Congress in Mexico City, after lengthy discussions dating from as early as 1948 (Day, 1992; IAH, 1994, 2003). The first IAH congress took place in Paris in 1957.

The initial aims of the association were getting to know each other, sharing professional expertise and furthering hydrogeological science. In lAH's annual report of 2003 the objectives are formulated as follows:

'to advance public education and promote research (and disseminate the useful results of such research) in the study and knowledge of hydrogeological science.

The Association seeks to achieve these objectives by:

• Publishing journals, book series, newsletters and other occasional publications in both hard copy and electronic format for the benefit of members and the wider community interested in the objectives of the Association.

• Promoting international cooperation among hydrogeologists and others with an interest in groundwater through commissions, working groups and joint projects.

• Encouraging the worldwide application of hydrogeological skills through education and technology transfer programmes, and sponsoring international, regional and national meetings open to all.

• Cooperating with national and international scientific organizations, to promote understanding of groundwater in the international management of water resources and the environment.'

IAH has been affiliated with the International Union of Geological Sciences since 1964.

IAH is a very active and influential worldwide professional association, governed by the IAH Council (11 members) and a General Assembly. By the end of 2003, the association counted more than 3700 members in more than 130 countries, scattered over all continents. There is a special fund (Burdon Fund) for sponsoring members in developing countries. Commissions (formerly Working Groups), National Chapters (in 40 countries) and regional groups or committees facilitate the efficient implementation of activities.

The main activities of the IAH include: (i) organizing or coorganizing international meetings and sponsoring national meetings; (ii) publishing a journal, newsletter and publications; (iii) organizing and participating in international projects on hydrogeological subjects. IAH's website address is:

Foremost among the international meetings and conferences organized by IAH are the IAH congresses, which are the most important international meetings for hydrogeologists. The October 2004 congress in Zacatacas, Mexico, was the 33th IAH Congress since the association was established; thus the average frequency is about one in 18 months.

IAH's scientific journal started in 1992, initially under the name Applied Hydrogeology, but at the beginning of 1995 it was renamed Hydrogeology Journal. It appears bimonthly and favours papers with an applied hydrogeological and/or area-specific focus.

To date, IAH has produced two series of publications: International contributions to Hydrogeology and Hydrogeology: Selected Papers. An important early co-production (IASH, IAH, UNESCO/I H D, IGS) was the International Legend for Hydrogeological Maps (1970, in four languages).

IAH currently has 12 commissions (permanent technical groups) on the following subjects: Hydrogeological Maps (the oldest one, established in 1959);

Hydrogeology of Karst; Mineral and Thermal Waters; Groundwater Protection; Hydrogeology in Developing Nations (Burdon Commission); Education and Training; Hydrogeology in Urban Areas; Transboundary Aquifers; Hydrogeology of Hard Rocks; Managing Aquifer Recharge; Groundwater Dependent EcoSystems; Aquifer Dynamics; and Coastal Zone Management. In addition, a Working Group on Groundwater and Climate Change is in formation.

The association closely cooperates with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for example, in the project to develop the Hydrogeological Map of Europe '1:1.5 M' (30 sheets; started in 1965 and now nearly completed), in the WHYMAP project (Groundwater Resources of the World) and in the ISARM initiative (Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management). More information on these projects will be provided later.

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