Why This Conference is Important
Consider this: There are over 600 transnational aquifers - about double the number of transnational river basins. Despite this huge number, Professor Gabriel Eckstein of the Texas A&M University School of Law has estimated that in the past 1,200 years there have been about 3,600 written agreements governing transnational surface water resources but only 4 governing transnational aquifers: France and Switzerland; Jordan and Saudi Arabia; and two agreements in North Africa. This situation does not bode well for future harmony in the water resources realm.
As for intranational cases, there are already disputes involving transboundary groundwater In the USA. One case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court between the states of Mississippi and Tennessee could have significant domestic - and perhaps even international - repercussions, depending upon the outcome. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear a case involving two California water districts and a Native American reservation. By doing so, the Court let stand a lower court ruling that allowed groundwater on Native American reservations to be considered a 'reserved right'. This could have significant impacts on groundwater use and allocation, especially in the Western states.
Disagreements such as the aforementioned threaten to become the rule, not the exception, not only in the USA but also around the world. Water professionals must act proactively now to develop mechanisms to address, avoid, and resolve such issues. Not only must legal, management, and governance schemes be devised, but so must methods for identifying transboundary aquifers, characterizing their hydrogeologic properties, assessing their sustainability, ensuring prevention of groundwater from pollution, developing instruments for management and governance, and protecting groundwater-dependent ecosystems.
The conference will provide attendees the opportunity to learn about and engage in discussions on The Science, Management and Governance of Transboundary Groundwater. The program will stimulate conversations on innovative approaches for identifying transboundary groundwater resources and the methods to develop sustainable governance and management agreements.
Please join us to discuss the newest developments in transboundary groundwater research and practice and innovative approaches for developing sustainable governance and management systems, from the local to regional to international scales.
We look forward to seeing you in Texas in July 2018!