Promoting groundwater awareness through early career hydrogeologists - Securing the future groundwater generation

Judith Flügge1, Viviana Re2, Matthys A. Dippenaar3, Carlos Maldaner4, Gillian Hurding5
1 Early Career Hydrogeologists‘ Network (ECHN) of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), Germany
2 ECHN (IAH), Italy
3 ECHN (IAH), South Africa
4 ECHN (IAH), Brazil

P 2.9 in Aquifer systems in Europe and beyond

An educated awareness of groundwater issues is crucial in ensuring the sustainable use of world-wide groundwater resources. The mission of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) is to further the understanding, wise use and protection of groundwater resources throughout the world. Hydrogeologists need to be advocates for groundwater to advance its literacy across scientific and more general communities and especially amongst decision makers.

With rapid expansion in online data sharing and social networks, early career hydrogeologists have entered their discipline with much easier access to information, as well as international colleagues, than was ever experienced by more senior generations. However, these online sources of information are not necessarily reliable and trustworthy, considering the ephemerality and the low traceability of information in the web 2.0. Current hydrogeologists are therefore challenged with making use of these online platforms for their benefits, such as the free and instantaneous sharing of copious amounts of data, whilst avoiding pitfalls stemming from reliance of questionable data. In this respect, early career hydrogeologists (ECH) must be encouraged as informed providers of awareness and appreciation of the value of groundwater both within and outside of traditional fields to ensure that future water decisions are based on hydrological reality. To be able to do so, they must be involved in decision making processes as early as possible to build their vocational experience. Guidance from leading experts in the early stages of a hydrogeologist’s professional careers, is also vital so that (i) they become prepared to be the future leaders in hydrogeology, (ii) their decision making is based on well-grounded technical and management aspects of water resources, and (iii) the loss of competence and knowledge associated with the retirement of well-experienced experts is mitigated.

The Early Career Hydrogeologists’ Network (ECHN) of IAH aims to support hydrogeologists at the start of their professional careers and to promote their involvement in IAH affairs from the outset. Three of the main goals of ECHN are (i) to enhance the information sharing possibilities for early career hydrogeologists, (ii) to provide a support network for members to discuss and develop ideas or schemes and career opportunities, and (iii) to enhance the social and professional network of the early career hydrogeologists.

This presentation will start with an overview on the objectives and aims of the ECHN and then give a summary on its past and present activities in promoting groundwater awareness through early career hydrogeologists. Any input from the audience on how to pursue the objectives and to secure the future groundwater generation is more than welcome.