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05-02-2021 | Issue 4/2021

Environmental Management 4/2021

Index-based Groundwater Sustainability Assessment in the Socio-Economic Context: a Case Study in the Western Iran

Journal:
Environmental Management > Issue 4/2021
Authors:
Fatemeh Majidipour, Seyyed Mohammad Bagher Najafi, Kamal Taheri, Jamal Fathollahi, Thomas M. Missimer
Important notes
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

The groundwater sustainability of an alluvial aquifer in the western Iran was examined by using eight different social, economic, and environmental indicators. Differing types of indicators were used including groundwater extraction, groundwater quality, and groundwater vulnerability from the environmental indicators proposed by UNESCO 2007 and the legal framework, institutional capacity, public participation, knowledge generation, and promotion and water productivity from five researcher-developed indicators. A questionnaire and an AHP analysis were used to assess groundwater sustainability in the Mahidasht aquifer. Using AHP method, the indicators were formulated as spatial thematic maps resulting in calculation of the groundwater sustainability index (GSI). Then, the final GSI was divided into four categories, including sustainable, near sustainable, unsustainable, and highly or critically unsustainable. The AHP results showed that most parts of the study area are contained within the unsustainable category. The questionnaire method also showed that the study area with the score of 1.47 belongs within the unsustainable category. The validation of AHP results indicated 97% of the area had more than 1-m of drawdown in the groundwater level and 62% of it had more than 10-m of decline in the water level. The results showed that different socio-economic and environmental indicators can provide a helpful overview of groundwater sustainability conditions for future planning and decision-making in water management. Few studies of water management using socio-economic indicators have been conducted in Iran, Therefore this study provides a novel method of groundwater sustainability assessment by using the concepts of sustainable development, and integrated spatial indicators.

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