Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2024 | Viewed by 23495

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, University of Ferrara, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
Interests: hydrogeology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Groundwater provides essential freshwater supply, particularly in dry regions, karst regions and anywhere surface water availability is limited.

Erratic rainfall patterns and more extreme weather events caused by climate change can lead to longer periods of droughts and floods, which directly affects groundwater storage and the vulnerability of freshwater resources.

Climate changes and anthropic activities have impacts on both the quality and quantity of available groundwater, primarily affecting recharge, evapotranspiration and reservoir safe yield and thus the sustainability of freshwater resources.

Nowadays, predicting how climate change could qualitatively and quantitatively impact groundwater systems is difficult not only because of uncertainties in the predictions of future climate but also due to the complex combinations of processes that affect groundwater recharge, discharge and quality.

Therefore, a better understanding of how climate change could affect groundwater systems will require long-term monitoring of the interaction between climate and groundwater recharge, storage and discharge, as well as the development and testing of models that more completely represent both the long- and shortterm connections between climate and groundwater, both in terms of water balances and water quality.

In this context, traditional water resources planning models must be abandoned and new paradigms must be adopted for improving integrated water resources management: Reused water for irrigation and groundwater recharge, to prevent aquifer’s depletion and seawater intrusion.

Recycled water is a largely untapped water source that could be used to protect the critically overdrawn aquifers. Managed Artificial Recharge is a promising adaptation measure to increase groundwater resilience to climate change. It can be utilized to recharge aquifers subject to declining yields for future use or drought mitigation, to control saltwater intrusion or to prevent land subsidence.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Cherubini
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • groundwater and circular economy: closing the loop on the water cycle 
  • managed aquifer recharge for groundwater resilience
  • monitoring and modelling of infiltration –recharge dynamics
  • monitoring and modelling of groundwater vulnerability to pollution
  • monitoring and modelling of groundwater/surface water interactions
  • effects of sea level rise and subsidence on seawater intrusion 

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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20 pages, 7879 KiB  
Article
Dynamics of Coastal Aquifers: Conceptualization and Steady-State Calibration of Multilayer Aquifer System—Southern Coast of Emilia Romagna
by Claudia Cherubini, Sadhasivam Sathish and Nicola Pastore
Water 2023, 15(13), 2384; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15132384 - 28 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1302
Abstract
Worldwide, coastal aquifers have been heavily exploited by socio economic activities for several decades, and climate change and sea level rise have also been threatening coastal aquifers. The authorities and policymakers have been advised to find the solutions in order to achieve sustainable [...] Read more.
Worldwide, coastal aquifers have been heavily exploited by socio economic activities for several decades, and climate change and sea level rise have also been threatening coastal aquifers. The authorities and policymakers have been advised to find the solutions in order to achieve sustainable water resources management. The southern part of Po delta, Italy is a low-lying coastal area also experiencing tectonic activity. Along with low-lying topography, unstable shore line and sea level, the groundwater is heavily exploited by this deltaic multilayered system of aquifers. Hence, a multilayer three-dimensional model of this aquifer system has allowed for the investigation of the response of aquifer to natural and anthropogenic exploitation. The present work regards the conceptualization of the multilayer aquifer system using lithological cross-sections, surface water features, and appropriate boundary conditions and the steady-state flow modelling. The spatially distributed elevations of the groundwater table and piezometric head from the different aquifers have been calibrated. The values of model error statistics at a satisfactory range, such as R-squared, mean error, root-mean-squared error and model efficiency, confirm that the developed model is reliable, and calibration is obtained with good match between observed and simulated data. The developed model can be used as a decision-making tool for the authorities and policymakers in order to plan for sustainable water management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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23 pages, 19498 KiB  
Article
Estimating Land Subsidence and Gravimetric Anomaly Induced by Aquifer Overexploitation in the Chandigarh Tri-City Region, India by Coupling Remote Sensing with a Deep Learning Neural Network Model
by Arjuman Rafiq Reshi, Har Amrit Singh Sandhu, Claudia Cherubini and Akshar Tripathi
Water 2023, 15(6), 1206; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15061206 - 20 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2328
Abstract
This study utilizes surface displacement data from Persistent Scatterer SAR Interferometry (PSInSAR) of Sentinel-1 satellite and groundwater storage change data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to understand land subsidence in the Chandigarh tri-city region. The satellite datasets are [...] Read more.
This study utilizes surface displacement data from Persistent Scatterer SAR Interferometry (PSInSAR) of Sentinel-1 satellite and groundwater storage change data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to understand land subsidence in the Chandigarh tri-city region. The satellite datasets are used along with the groundwater level data obtained from wells over the study area. Since the GRACE data are available at a much coarser spatial resolution of 1o by 1o, challenges remain in correlating the dataset with PSInSAR displacement that has been multi-looked at 14 m by 14 m resolution. Therefore, multiple sources of data (i.e., the monthly average of GRACE data, groundwater storage change and monthly average PSInSAR displacement per pixel, and interpolated groundwater level data from wells for 2017 to 2022) have been deployed into a deep learning multi-layer perceptron (DLMLP) model to estimate the groundwater storage change at the urban level. This has an indirect downscaling method that is carried out successfully using the DLMLP model for the estimation of groundwater storage changes at the urban level, which is usually complicated by applying direct downscaling methods on the GRACE data. Thus, the DLMLP model developed here is a distinctive approach considered for estimating the changes in groundwater storage using PSInSAR displacement, groundwater data from wells, and GRACE data. The DLMLP model gives an R2-statistics value of 0.91 and 0.89 in the training and testing phases, respectively, and has a mean absolute error (MAE) of 1.23 and root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.87. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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35 pages, 23681 KiB  
Article
Decision Support System for Sustainable Exploitation of the Eocene Aquifer in the West Bank, Palestine
by Andreja Jonoski, Tanvir Ahmed, Mohammad N. Almasri and Muath Abu-Saadah
Water 2023, 15(2), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15020365 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2099
Abstract
Groundwater is a crucial resource for water supply and irrigation in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. The Eocene aquifer, located in the northern part of the West Bank, Palestine, is threatened by unsustainable groundwater abstractions and on-ground pollution. [...] Read more.
Groundwater is a crucial resource for water supply and irrigation in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. The Eocene aquifer, located in the northern part of the West Bank, Palestine, is threatened by unsustainable groundwater abstractions and on-ground pollution. Analysis and management of this aquifer are challenging because of limited data availability. This research contributes to the long-term sustainability of the aquifer by model-based design of future abstraction strategies considered within an uncertainty analysis framework. The methodology employed started with development of a single-layer steady-state MODFLOW groundwater model of the area, followed by uncertainty analysis of model parameters using Monte Carlo simulations. The same model was afterwards coupled with a Successive Linear Programming (SLP) optimization algorithm, implemented in the Groundwater Management tool (GWM) of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The purpose of optimization was deriving five optimal abstraction strategies, each aiming to maximize groundwater abstraction, subject to different constraints regarding groundwater depletion. Given the uncertainty of model parameters, the sensitivity and reliability of these optimal strategies were then tested. Sensitivity was checked for two optimal strategies by performing re-optimization with different values of uncertain model parameters (one at a time). Reliability of the five strategies was tested by analyzing the extent of constraints’ violation for each strategy when varying the uncertain parameters using Monte Carlo simulations. Finally, the model was used for determining capture zones of wells for the five optimal abstraction strategies, land-use in these capture zones, and the associated estimates of on-ground nitrogen loading. The developed strategies were then deployed in a web-based decision support application (named Groundwater Decision Support System—GDSS), together with other relevant information. Users can analyze results of different optimal strategies in terms of groundwater level variations and total water balance results, and test consequences of uncertain parameters. Capture zones of wells for different abstraction strategies, together with land-use and on-ground nitrogen loading in these capture zones, are also presented. Results show that critical uncertain parameters are recharge, hydraulic conductivity, and conductance at key boundary condition locations. Optimal abstraction strategies results indicate that an increase in total abstractions could be between 5% and 20% from the current level (estimated at about 56 × 106 m3/year, which is about 74% of estimated annual recharge). The uncertain parameters, however, are impacting the sensitivity and the reliability of the optimal strategies to variable degrees. Recharge and hydraulic conductivity are the most critical uncertain parameters regarding sensitivity of the optimal strategies, while reliability is also impacted by the level of abstraction proposed in a given strategy (number, locations, and abstraction rates of new wells). The main novelty and contribution of this research is in combining modelling, uncertainty analysis, and optimization techniques in a comprehensive decision support system for the area of the Eocene aquifer, characterized with limited data availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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20 pages, 9903 KiB  
Article
Experimental Investigation on Water Seepage through Transparent Synthetic Rough-Walled Fractures
by Ali Ranjbar, Claudia Cherubini and Nicola Pastore
Water 2022, 14(20), 3199; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14203199 - 11 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1348
Abstract
One of the impacts of climate changes nowadays is the increase in the frequency of high-intensity rainfall events alternating with extreme dry periods, which affect the components of the hydrologic cycle, such as runoff, infiltration, and aquifer recharge. Several experimental investigations and theoretical [...] Read more.
One of the impacts of climate changes nowadays is the increase in the frequency of high-intensity rainfall events alternating with extreme dry periods, which affect the components of the hydrologic cycle, such as runoff, infiltration, and aquifer recharge. Several experimental investigations and theoretical studies have demonstrated that infiltration flow in fractured media can develop along preferential pathways. However, the prediction of infiltration phenomena in fractured media still remains an open issue. This, together with erratic rainfall patterns due to climate changes, affects the prediction of aquifer recharge and contaminant transport in fractured aquifers. The present work contributes to reducing this research gap by means of experimental investigation and forecast analysis, with a focus on the geometrical properties of single fractures and their influence on flow patterns. Several fracture surfaces based on different fractal dimensions, standard deviations, and mismatch lengths were designed using the SynFrac model and were generated by 3D printing technology. The results revealed that the fracture’s fractal dimension has a significant impact on the number of flow paths, while the fracture inclination only increases the number of intermediate preferential channels, and, hence, modifies the flow rate distribution over the fracture outlet. Additionally, the change in the inclination angle of the dry fracture from 55 to 65 degrees resulted in an 8% reduction in the mean width of first flow path. A sensitivity analysis using an M5 tree indicates that there is a linear relationship between flow rate and the exponential form of the fractal dimension. The location of flow channels is a function of fracture fractal dimension, and the influence of mismatch length on their location is negligible. Finally, an accurate prediction algorithm with a Nash value of 0.81 was developed using Wavelet transform in order to estimate the time series of periodic flow rates over the fracture outlet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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22 pages, 36891 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Well Improvement and Water Quality Change before and after Air Surging in Bedrock Aquifers
by Kyoochul Ha, Hyowon An, Eunhee Lee, Sujeong Lee, Hyoung Chan Kim and Kyung-Seok Ko
Water 2022, 14(14), 2233; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14142233 - 15 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1460
Abstract
When a drought occurs, drought response is mainly focused on the development of new wells. However, it is inefficient to respond to droughts by developing additional new wells in areas where many existing groundwater wells have been developed. Rather, it is necessary to [...] Read more.
When a drought occurs, drought response is mainly focused on the development of new wells. However, it is inefficient to respond to droughts by developing additional new wells in areas where many existing groundwater wells have been developed. Rather, it is necessary to find a way to use the existing wells efficiently and, if possible, increase the amount of groundwater that can be pumped. In this study, a pumping test and analysis method were used to evaluate the effect of air surging on improving existing wells. Drawdowns were reduced in the test wells, and, accordingly, the average specific discharges and transmissivities were increased. Since many factors in bedrock aquifers must be considered in order to calculate the well efficiency for the evaluation of the well performance, it seems better to compare the pumping rate and drawdown based on a reference time calculated by an adjusted time. Such factors could be the uncertainty of the aquifer model, aquifer inhomogeneity, and a hydrogeologic boundary. Additionally, in this process, the changes in groundwater quality were investigated, as well as the substances that caused the degradation of the well performance in bedrock aquifers. According to the results of the groundwater quality analysis conducted during the surging process and the step drawdown tests, there was no significant groundwater quality change before and after surging, but it appeared that there was an inflow of contaminants from the upper shallow strata close to the surface. According to the results of the XRD, XRF, and SEM-EDS analyses for the substances collected during surging and the substances deposited inside the well pipe, most of the substances were Fe-related amorphous components. Additionally, Fe coexisted with components such as As, V, and Zn, which formed the well casing together with Fe and were eluted in the surging process and step drawdown tests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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16 pages, 3565 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Concentration Levels of Contaminants in Groundwater of the Soutpansberg Region, Limpopo Province, South Africa
by Lindelani Lalumbe and Thokozani Kanyerere
Water 2022, 14(9), 1354; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14091354 - 21 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2338
Abstract
Groundwater contributions towards improved food security and human health depend on the level of contaminants in groundwater resources. Many people in rural areas use groundwater for drinking purposes without treatment and knowledge of contaminant levels in such waters, owing to parachute research in [...] Read more.
Groundwater contributions towards improved food security and human health depend on the level of contaminants in groundwater resources. Many people in rural areas use groundwater for drinking purposes without treatment and knowledge of contaminant levels in such waters, owing to parachute research in which research outputs are not shared with communities. This study argues that parachute research exposes groundwater users to health hazards and threatens the food security of communities. Concentration levels of contaminants were measured to ascertain suitability of groundwater for drinking and irrigation purposes. A total of 124 groundwater quality samples from 12 boreholes and 2 springs with physiochemical data from 1995 to 2017 were assessed. This study found high concentration levels of contaminants, such as F, NO3, Cl, and total dissolved solids, in certain parts of the studied area. In general, groundwater was deemed suitable for drinking purposes in most parts of the studied area. Combined calculated values of sodium adsorption ratios, Na%, magnesium hazards, the permeability index, residual sodium carbonate, and total dissolved solids determined that groundwater was suitable for irrigation purposes. The discussion in this paper shows that scientific knowledge generated on groundwater quality is not aimed at developing skills and outputs for improved human health and food security but rather for scientific publication and record keeping, leaving communities where such data has been gathered devoid of knowledge about groundwater quality. In this study, it is recommended that research outputs on groundwater quality should be shared with groundwater users through various initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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17 pages, 6660 KiB  
Article
Aosta Valley Mountain Springs: A Preliminary Analysis for Understanding Variations in Water Resource Availability under Climate Change
by Martina Gizzi, Michele Mondani, Glenda Taddia, Enrico Suozzi and Stefano Lo Russo
Water 2022, 14(7), 1004; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071004 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2127
Abstract
The availability of freshwater resources in mountain areas has been affected by climate change impacts on groundwater storage mechanisms. As a web of complex interactions characterizes climate systems, understanding how water storage conditions have changed in response to climate-driven factors in different Italian [...] Read more.
The availability of freshwater resources in mountain areas has been affected by climate change impacts on groundwater storage mechanisms. As a web of complex interactions characterizes climate systems, understanding how water storage conditions have changed in response to climate-driven factors in different Italian contexts is becoming increasingly crucial. In order to comprehend the relationship between changes in weather conditions and water availability in the Aosta Valley region and how their trends have changed over the last decade, a 7-year discharge series of different Aosta Valley springs (Promise, Alpe Perrot, Promiod, Cheserod) and precipitation data are analysed. Precipitation and flow rate trends using the Mann–Kendall and Sen’s slope trend detection tests were also performed. Not all of the Aosta Valley mountain springs detected seem to respond to the climate variation with a decrease in their stored water resources. Unlike Promiod, Alpe Perrot, Cheserod, and Promise springs have experienced an increase in water discharged amount during the detected 7-year period. This behavior occurs despite the available precipitation data for the associated Sant Vincent, Aymaville-Viayes, La Thuile-Villaret, Champdepraz meteorological stations revealing an overall decreasing trend in annual rainfall (mm), with a slight increase in intensity (mm/day) as a result of the reduction in rainfall events (number of rainy days). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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23 pages, 3698 KiB  
Article
Impacts of Desalinated and Recycled Water in the Abu Dhabi Surficial Aquifer
by Sadhasivam Sathish, Claudia Cherubini, Nicola Pastore, Concetta I. Giasi and Dimitra Rapti
Water 2021, 13(20), 2853; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202853 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 2901
Abstract
In Abu Dhabi, one of the most arid regions in the world, in recent decades, desalinated water has been identified as a prime solution in solving the water demand issues. In this study, a three-dimensional coupled density-dependent flow and solute transport model was [...] Read more.
In Abu Dhabi, one of the most arid regions in the world, in recent decades, desalinated water has been identified as a prime solution in solving the water demand issues. In this study, a three-dimensional coupled density-dependent flow and solute transport model was set up in order to study the effect of the artificial recharge using desalinated water and the influence of nonconventional water with a salt concentration in the range 0.1–2 g/L The results confirm that this region demands the adoption of a more rational use of irrigation water or additional usage of desalinated water and recycled water together with optimizing groundwater pumping at locations that are vulnerable to further quality degradation and depletion. The long-term storage of desalinated freshwater with a maximum radial distance of 653 m in the dune surface is ensured with the formation of the transition zone, and change in the groundwater head up to 5 km. The maximum recovery obtained by immediate recovery is 70%. The study expresses the long-term feasibility of desalinated freshwater storage and the need for further management practices in quantifying the contribution of desalinated and recycled water for agriculture activities which might have improved groundwater quality and increased hydraulic head at some locations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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19 pages, 11113 KiB  
Article
Groundwater Quality Issues and Challenges for Drinking and Irrigation Uses in Central Ganga Basin Dominated with Rice-Wheat Cropping System
by Sumant Kumar, Manish Kumar, Veerendra Kumar Chandola, Vinod Kumar, Ravi K. Saini, Neeraj Pant, Nikul Kumari, Ankur Srivastava, Surjeet Singh, Rajesh Singh, Gopal Krishan, Shashi Poonam Induwar, Sudhir Kumar, Brijesh Kumar Yadav, Nityanand Singh Maurya and Anju Chaudhary
Water 2021, 13(17), 2344; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172344 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3527
Abstract
Increased population and increasing demands for food in the Indo-Gangetic plain are likely to exert pressure on fresh water due to rise in demand for drinking and irrigation water. The study focuses on Bhojpur district, Bihar located in the central Ganga basin, to [...] Read more.
Increased population and increasing demands for food in the Indo-Gangetic plain are likely to exert pressure on fresh water due to rise in demand for drinking and irrigation water. The study focuses on Bhojpur district, Bihar located in the central Ganga basin, to assess the groundwater quality for drinking and irrigation purpose and discuss the issues and challenges. Groundwater is mostly utilized in the study area for drinking and irrigation purposes (major crops sown in the area are rice and wheat). There were around 45 groundwater samples collected across the study region in the pre-monsoon season (year 2019). The chemical analytical results show that Ca2+, Mg2+ and HCO3 ions are present in abundance in groundwater and governing the groundwater chemistry. Further analysis shows that 66%, 69% and 84% of the samples exceeded the acceptable limit of arsenic (As), Fe and Mn respectively and other trace metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd) are within the permissible limit of drinking water as prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standard for drinking water. Generally, high As concentration has been found in the aquifer (depth ranges from 20 to 40 m below ground surface) located in proximity of river Ganga. For assessing the irrigation water quality, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) values, residual sodium carbonate (RSC), Na%, permeability index (PI) and calcium alteration index (CAI) were calculated and found that almost all the samples are found to be in good to excellent category for irrigation purposes. The groundwater facie has been classified into Ca-Mg-HCO3 type. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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Review

Jump to: Research

21 pages, 5441 KiB  
Review
Groundwater Depletion and Degradation in the North China Plain: Challenges and Mitigation Options
by Jun Du, Yaseen Laghari, Yi-Chang Wei, Linyi Wu, Ai-Ling He, Gao-Yuan Liu, Huan-Huan Yang, Zhong-Yi Guo and Shah Jahan Leghari
Water 2024, 16(2), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16020354 - 21 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1750
Abstract
Groundwater is an important natural resource in the North China Plain (NCP) with high economic benefits and social significance. It fulfills 60% of drinking and 70% of irrigation water requirements. In this review, the information is retrieved from high-quality articles published in MEDLINE [...] Read more.
Groundwater is an important natural resource in the North China Plain (NCP) with high economic benefits and social significance. It fulfills 60% of drinking and 70% of irrigation water requirements. In this review, the information is retrieved from high-quality articles published in MEDLINE and other sources. We saw that groundwater is declining faster (>1 m yr−1) and polluting with NO3 (>30 mg L−1) due to excessive water pumping and application of a nitrogen (N) fertilizer, respectively. The water pumping (>600 mm ha−1 yr−1) for agricultural purposes in the region is higher than the recharge amount (<200 mm yr−1). The low recharge is the result of low rainfall (<600 mm yr−1), and high evapotranspiration (>800 mm yr−1) under the impact of dominant vegetative characteristics of winter wheat–summer maize (WW-SM) rotations, covering >80% of the land. Furthermore, N application exceeds the crop assimilation capacity (>250 kg ha−1 yr−1) and leach deep down (>50 kg ha−1) as well as loss in the atmosphere. Presently, Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei are ecologically the most affected areas. We suggest that excessive water and N fertilizer use for intensive cropping systems should be controlled by paying high attention to groundwater-friendly farming practices. In addition, artificial groundwater recharge options and their safe utilization would be explored across the region to replenish aquifers. This literature review contributes valuable insights to the knowledge bank and offers a foundation for further research and policy development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Endeavors)
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