Contesting Hidden Waters: Conflict Resolution for Groundwater and Aquifers, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Contesting Hidden Waters

Conflict Resolution for Groundwater and Aquifers, 1st Edition

By W. Todd Jarvis


192 pages | 31 B/W Illus.

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The world increasingly relies on groundwater resources for drinking water and the provision of food for a growing population. The utilization of aquifer systems also extends beyond freshwater supply to include other resources such as heat extraction and the storage and disposal of substances.

Unlike other books about conflict resolution and negotiations over water resources, this volume is unique in focusing exclusively on conflicts over groundwater and aquifers. The author explores the specific challenges presented by these "hidden" resources, which are shown to be very different from those posed by surface water resources. Whereas surface watersheds are static, groundwater boundaries are value-laden and constantly changing during development.

The book describes the various issues surrounding the governance and management of these resources and the various parties involved in conflicts and negotiations over them. Through first-hand accounts from a pracademic skilled in both process and substance as a groundwater professional and professional mediator, the book offers options for addressing the challenges and issues through a transdisciplinary approach.


"Anyone involved in water security, development, or even peace building, will treasure this book. Jarvis makes such impressive sense that readers across sectors, disciplines or borders will be inspired to act hand in hand. This work indeed nurtures the idea that various interests can co-exist harmoniously within the context of complex but reasonable transboundary groundwater management." – Léna Salamé, Programme Specialist, Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PCCP) Coordinator, UNESCO, Paris, France.

"A refreshingly unique and long awaited approach to understanding the most neglected part of the hydrologic cycle and how we interact with it." – Mark Giordano, Professor and Director of Science, Technology and International Affairs, Georgetown University, USA.

"Population growth brings greater dependency on groundwater. Conflicts are inevitable, and resolution through litigation is often not constructive. Rather than attacking the scientists or the science, Jarvis’ Hydro-Trifecta Framework offers a collaborative approach, embracing the best science to facilitate optimum resolutions."Steve E. Clyde, Clyde Snow Attorneys, USA.

"This is a singular book, due not only to its transdisciplinary focus but also because the author's "Hydro-Trifecta Framework" may allow decision makers to move away from litigation and into a more constructive approach for solving groundwater conflicts. Part of the "Earthscan Water Text" series. Summing Up: Recommended." -E. Gomezdelcampo, Bowling Green State University, CHOICE April 2015

"The author eloquently states that leadership and collaborative efforts may lessen the dueling expert syndrome on public decision-making process. So it is about time to have a holistic transdisciplinary approach to deal amicably with contentious issues involving hidden water sustainability."G. Agoramoorthy, Environmental Earth Sciences, Tajen University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction - A Guided Journey to the Underworld

2. Groundwater Governance versus Aquifer Governance

3. Water Negotiation Frameworks

4. The Silent Revolution and the Coming War of the Wells?

5. Conflictive Rationality and Aquifer Protection

6. A Star is Born: Documentary Film as a Tool in Conflict Resolution

7. Peak Oil meets Peak Water – The Disi Aquifer

8. Lessons Learned

Appendix A: Groundwater Protection Role Play

Appendix B: Listing of Water Documentary Videos

About the Author

W. Todd Jarvis, PhD, is Interim Director of the Institute for Water and Watersheds at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, USA. He is a consulting groundwater hydrologist with nearly 30 years of experience and specializes in dispute prevention and conflict resolution related to groundwater resources and water well construction.

About the Series

Earthscan Water Text

This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of water and water resources, integrating perspectives from both social and natural sciences. It includes main and supplementary textbooks, and is aimed at the growing number of students taking advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses on water-related topics. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Hydrology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / Water Supply