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Summer School on Groundwater and Drought: Challenges and Solutions to Sustainable Management in a Water Limited World

Delft, The Netherlands

University of California Davis and the Institute for Water Education IHE Delft offer an international 2024 Summer School in Delft, The Netherlands, from July 15-19, 2024.

The climate in the world is intensifying, with more extreme rainfall occurring in shorter periods, alternated by longer and warmer dry periods. This is leading to an increasing occurrence of droughts, with water resources increasingly under pressure. As the largest liquid freshwater reservoir on earth, groundwater has a fundamental role in supporting adaptation in this increasingly water-limited world, and exploitation of groundwater resources has proven an effective buffer to reduce the impacts droughts have. Nature-based solutions and green infrastructure are increasingly being consider as adaptation options. There are, however, many challenges. How can groundwater resources be managed sustainably, particularly when helping society increase resilience to extreme droughts? What is the importance of groundwater dependent ecosystems? How can good governance and policies support a more sustainable management of groundwater in this increasingly water limited world?

For whom?

This summer school suits professionals and (PhD) students who are working in the field of water resources assessment, management, governance and/or research. We welcome participants from public and private organisations, non-governmental organizations and academia. PhD students qualify for a 50% discount; others can apply for partial scholarships.


Master’s Degree (or equivalent), and/or minimum of three years of work experience in Water Resources Management, Hydrology, Environmental Science or related field. You will need a good command of the English language, and be highly motivated to participate in round table discussions, debates and working in groups.

Learning objectives

  1. Describe groundwater use, management and governance, and the links between drought, groundwater, society and ecosystems.
  2. Identify the spatiotemporal manifestation of water-limited environments and their link to groundwater occurrence under climate variability and climate change

Assess nature-based solutions, with a focus on groundwater, to develop sustainable adaptation strategies that address the increasing challenges of drought and water scarcity.

Course fee: € 1750 excl. VAT *

Application deadline:

Apply for 2024

This summer school has been developed through a special collaboration between the University of California, Davis, and IHE Institute for Water Education.

Course content

In this one-week summer school we will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction into the challenges of coping with hydrological extremes, in particular droughts, under a changing climate, with a focus on the role of groundwater. We start with a broad characterisation of global climate variability and climate change and the challenges these pose to the sustainable management of water resources and ecosystems, with a particular focus on the role of groundwater. These challenges will be illustrated through concrete case studies with different climatic, bio-geophysical and socio-economic settings; including from regions traditionally vulnerable to drought such as California and Southern Africa, as well as from regions such as the Netherlands where managing sustainable management of groundwater resources is increasingly a challenge due to the changing climate. Participants are encouraged to bring their own examples, challenges and questions to enrich the discussions and insights into challenges faced in practice.
  • Groundwater, drought, ecosystem services and restoration: We develop a solid foundation of groundwater and its occurrence, the concepts of groundwater balances and sustainable yield, groundwater dependent ecosystems, and international approaches to groundwater management. This is complemented with a foundational introduction to drought and water scarcity, concepts and international approaches to drought management, and the interrelationship between drought and groundwater, and how groundwater plays a role in the buffering of drought impacts to ameliorate low flows. We build on this knowledge to explore groundwater related solutions to support adaptation to drought, including managed aquifer recharge, conjunctive use, and emerging concepts of nature-based solutions, green infrastructure and ecosystem services.
  • Groundwater governance and policy: Good governance and policies are essential to a sustainable management of groundwater, particularly under exceptional circumstances such as drought. We explore groundwater resource and territory planning, and legal aspects, public policy and regulation, as well as institutional aspects and stakeholder involvement. Through a comparative assessment of groundwater policies in different countries, we develop insight into different paradigms and understanding of current and best practices.
  • Debates, discussions and groupwork & field trip: we develop the summer school through a highly participatory approach, where you will actively engage in lectures and case study presentations, and work with other participants from diverse backgrounds debating and discussing the different aspects of sustainably managing groundwater in a water-limited world. Throughout the week, you will work as a group to develop a comparative analysis of different global paradigms, resulting in joint vision poster or paper to be presented at an international conference. We will also organise a fieldtrip to experience solutions in practice, to have fun, and have the opportunity to interact with fellow participants.

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