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Assessment of groundwater sustainability using traditional knowledge from qanats and tube wells
[ Dale R Lightfoot ] - Oklahoma State University, USA
People who rely on aquifers for water supply are experiencing rapidly diminishing reserves in many areas of the world. Local farmers and decision makers may be aware that a problem exists but they may not understand the spatial pattern of change, or the rate at which change is taking place, so they are not prepared to deal with problems of water supply. People who use qanats and traditional wells rely on aquifers, and groundwater information can be collected from these traditional specialists. This offers an alternate source of data which, when collected across a broad area, can be mapped to show regional variations in the depth to groundwater. This paper offers a few examples of groundwater information gathered from qanats and tube wells in Morocco, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Uzbekistan to show how modern pumping systems and drought have affected traditional water systems and how changes in the water table can be assessed by talking to people who use traditional systems. However, groundwater data drawn from memory and verbally communicated through interviews is useful only if we can prove that interview-derived data are accurate. Therefore, the reliability of interview-derived data for groundwater assessment is assessed to demonstrate the value and efficacy of these methods by comparing groundwater data verbally reported by users of traditional wells and data recorded independently by hydrogeologists using nearby monitoring wells. Results of this research are very positive. The ability to predict true water depths from reported traditional well data is very good and significant to any reasonable level of precision. With new confidence in the accuracy of interview-derived groundwater data, we can gather groundwater information from people who use qanats or traditional wells to produce groundwater maps for regions that lack the immediate capacity to implement a monitoring well network.
qanat, karez, tube well, groundwater, traditional knowledge, sustainability