M&A’s Lisa Porta attends International Groundwater Conference in Paris

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M&A’s Senior Water Resources Engineer Lisa Porta, P.E., was invited to present at a conference of international groundwater managers and scientists at the Sorbonne University in Paris, May 18-20, 2022. The conference, titled Groundwater, Key to the Sustainable Development Goals, was organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Program, the French Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), and the French Water Partnership. Participants included professionals from government agencies, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), funding agencies, and consulting firms from 5 continents. The event was also broadcast online with simultaneous French-English and English-French translations. According to IAH, the conference “enabled sharing of knowledge, experiences, findings, and good practices…to ensure the best integration of groundwater resources into the UNESCO water-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG ) targets.”

Lisa, who’s fluent in French, participated in a roundtable discussion examining The Legal Status of Water: Challenges and Issues. Panelists from France, Canada, and Tunisia joined Lisa—representing California—to discuss legal aspects of water management in their respective regions, and they explored problems, compatibilities, and obstacles of water management relative to the SDGs. Approximately 40 audience members were present for the lively conversation.

Lisa also presented an abstract she had co-authored with Professor Jean Fried from the University of California–Irvine, who led the 2021 California-European Union-Australia workshop titled SGMA Implementation, Economic Issues, Water-Energy-Food Nexus. Lisa presented this abstract during a session titled Sharing worldwide case studies: best practices, successes/failures, providing an overview of California’s water resource challenges and management approaches. Lisa highlighted the need for California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), discussed SGMA implementation status, and shared lessons learned over the past 6 years. She emphasized the need for improved outreach and collaboration between groundwater stakeholders and encouraged participants to share information across regional and international boundaries.

The audience had many questions about California’s approach to sustainable groundwater management. Additional conversations revealed that countries around the world grapple with similar issues including the need for better groundwater data, science education and communication, leadership, and funding. All major aquifers face increased resource management challenges due to climate change and water shortages. International groundwater managers are concerned with transboundary aquifer management; similarly, California water managers work with inter-basin coordination and management. In all cases, parties from neighboring basins need to coordinate around common understanding of local and regional science and data to reach sustainability.

Reliance on groundwater is often higher in other countries that lack the surface water infrastructure present in California. Lisa hopes to incorporate lessons learned from foreign groundwater management into her work implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

Lisa Porta is a member of the Groundwater Resources Association of California (GRA) Technical Committee and a member of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) Scientific, Technical & Publications Committee.

If you would like to learn more about the international groundwater conference or our groundwater management services in California, please contact Lisa.

[1] UNESCO developed and adopted 17 SDGs in September 2015 (https://en.unesco.org/sustainabledevelopmentgoals), with a goal to reach the outlined targets in all countries by 2030. SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation relates to water and groundwater resources, which was the focus of this conference.