Impact of Awareness-Raising and Citizen Pressure on US Groundwater Governance
In recent years, citizens, community interest groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and professional associations have had considerable influence on the way in which groundwater resources are managed. Greater public awareness about the significance of groundwater has been a motivating force on public involvement. Issues such as hydraulic fracturing, bottled water and emerging contaminants have forced elected representatives to pay attention to resource protection and allocation policies.
Information, awareness and education about groundwater, much of it provided by NGOs and professional associations, has helped widen the suite of groundwater stake-holders. It is no longer just senior staff in state and federal agencies or the direct vested interests of groundwater end-users who have the ear of the political policymakers. Individuals and organizations with environmental, ecological, health related and socioeconomic priorities have shown they can impact decisions about groundwater use and source protection.
Groundwater governance strategies are principally developed to achieve sustainability while protecting a diverse range of vested interests by balancing economic, environmental and social issues within institutional political frameworks. Many agencies and units of government play a role in creating, implementing and policing groundwater regulations which are the basic building blocks of groundwater governance. Citizen pressure and the interventions of associations and NGOs can have a major influence on regulations and policy.