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Groundwater Profession in Transition: Discovery to Adaptation

  • Author(s): Narasimhan, T.N.
  • et al.
Abstract

Over the past century and half, groundwater has played an important role in the economic prosperity of the United States. The groundwater profession which has contributed to this prosperity has grown through the contributions of the U.S. and State Geological Surveys, academia, and industry. A century ago, the energies of the profession were channeled towards discovering new sources of groundwater in a largely unexplored land, and exploiting the resources for maximum economic benefit. Experience has since revealed that groundwater systems are finite, and are intimately linked to surface water bodies and the biosphere. A consequence is that aggressive exploitation of groundwater can lead to unacceptable environmental degradation and social cost. At present, the groundwater profession is in a state of transition from one of discovery and exploitation, to one of balancing resource development with avoiding unacceptable damage to the environment. This paper outlines the history of the groundwater profession in the United States since the late nineteenth century, and speculates on what may lie ahead in the near future, as the profession makes the transition from discovering new sources of groundwater to one of better understanding and adapting to nature's constraints.

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