Groundwater management: Conceptual framework – A presentation by ACWADAM
Groundwater is a resource and is a part of a larger system of water resources, the hydrological cycle. It is also a part of the larger system of earth resources, the environment.

This presentation by ACWADAM deals with the conceptual framework of groundwater management.

The presentation treats groundwater as a Common Property Resource pool i.e., as resources that cut across administrative and other such boundaries and are common to many people and communities. The issue of delinking of land and water rights is discussed. A number of issues are dealt with in the presentation like –

  • Fragility of groundwater resources, both in terms of quantity and quality.
  • Diversity in groundwater conditions, is explained in terms of geology and hydrogeology.
  • Efficiency of water use is dealt with in terms of what is possible at the farm level, without disturbing equity and sustainability.
  • Sustainability (long term trends) in terms of balance between resource condition and resource use.
  • A common challenge in groundwater management is that free riding is common in the absence of defined boundaries. The first and second order conditions in groundwater group management is discussed. The first order conditions for initiating community-based initiatives are:
    • Interface between resource and management group.
    • Management group characteristics – homogeneity/size/constitution.
    • Nested institutions help ensure large scale problems are addressed; also helps absorb some of the transaction costs of group organization.
    • External environment like policies, institutions and processes defines the wider influences and constraints on group management.
  • The second order conditions that apply only to existing group management schemes:
    • Rules/norms defining groundwater access and/or use entitlements (defined and agreed).
    • Monitoring and sanction arrangements exist for checking and enforcing compliance.
    • Mechanisms/arenas exist for modifying rules/norms.

This presentation is part of the training modules on planning, development and management of groundwater with special reference to watershed management programmes by ACWADAM. Please write to ACWADAM at for sourcing these presentations.


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