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Multi-component groundwater management programs

Health Factors: Air & Water Quality
Decision Makers: Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Multi-component groundwater management programs include interventions to address soil and water quality. Such programs can include regular groundwater monitoring, education about risks to groundwater, resources to limit water contamination (e.g., tools for appropriate pesticide and fertilizer application, wastewater disposal, and soil tillage), and water quotas and taxes.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased use of water management practices
Improved water quality
Increased water conservation
Reduced soil erosion
Reduced run-off

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that multi-component groundwater management programs increase use of best water management practices (Holsman 2002, Keestra 2012), and improve water quality (Sahrawat 2010, Kay 2009, Kay 2012, Esteban 2013). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects, especially at the catchment level (Kay 2009).

Multi-component groundwater management programs can increase closure of abandoned wells, use of safeguards in pesticide storage and handling, well water testing, nutrient best management, and integrated pest management practices (Holsman 2002, Keestra 2012). Soil and water conservation practices can reduce soil loss, as well as water, pesticide, and excess nutrient runoff (Sahrawat 2010, Keestra 2012), especially from individual plots and fields (Kay 2012). At catchment scale, current programs appear to be less effective, often due to their voluntary nature, insufficient financial rewards, unclear farm costs, or insufficient regulatory pressure and monitoring (Kay 2012). Experts suggest that increased monitoring and regulation of these programs at the catchment level could improve their effectiveness (Sahrawat 2010, King County DNR 2005, Kay 2012).

Inconvenience, ignorance, and cost can be barriers to implementing groundwater management practices. Including educational materials and regulatory enforcement in multi-component programs may overcome such barriers (Kreutzwiser 2011).


United States

There are a number of groundwater management programs in the US. Examples include state-level programs such as Florida’s Ground Water Program (FL DEP-GWP) and Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources Groundwater Management Program (MN DNR-GMP); as well as regional or municipal programs such as the Sacramento Groundwater Authority’s Groundwater Management Plan (SGA-GMP), the Las Vegas Valley Groundwater Management Program (Las Vegas-GMP), and the King County Groundwater Protection Program in Washington (King County-GPP). 

Non-governmental organizations can also partner to create groundwater management programs that offer education, technical assistance, monitoring services, and outline voluntary steps to reduce water contamination risks, for example the Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP).


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides information about groundwater quality and protection (WI DNR-Groundwater), and the Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program provides tools and resources for agricultural lands that require cleanup of pesticide and fertilizer spills before reaching groundwater (WI DATCP-ACCP).

Implementation Resources

BC-Well protection - British Columbia Ministry of Environmental Water Stewardship Division (WSD). Well protection toolkit. Accessed on December 1, 2015
CDC-Groundwater awareness - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Groundwater awareness week. Accessed on November 30, 2015
CWC-Bogert 2009 - Bogert R. The watershed stewardship toolkit. Santa Cruz: Coastal Watershed Council (CWC); 2009. Accessed on December 14, 2015
NGWA-Stewardship - National Groundwater Association (NGWA). Groundwater stewardship - protection and conservation. Accessed on November 24, 2015

Citations - Evidence

Esteban 2013* - Esteban E, Dinar A. Modeling sustainable groundwater management: Packaging and sequencing of policy interventions. Journal of Environmental Management. 2013;119:93–102. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Holsman 2002 - Holsman RH, Krueger D. The long and short of groundwater education for Michigan farmers. Journal of Extension. 2002;40(1):1FEA4. Accessed on November 20, 2015
Kay 2009* - Kay P, Edwards AC, Foulger M. A review of the efficacy of contemporary agricultural stewardship measures for ameliorating water pollution problems of key concern to the UK water industry. Agricultural Systems. 2009;99(2-3):67–75. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Kay 2012* - Kay P, Grayson R, Phillips M, et al. The effectiveness of agricultural stewardship for improving water quality at the catchment scale: Experiences from an NVZ and ECSFDI watershed. Journal of Hydrology. 2012;422-23:10–16. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Keestra 2012* - Keesstra S, Geissen V, Mosse K, et al. Soil as a filter for groundwater quality. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 2012;4(5):507–16. Accessed on November 24, 2015
King County DNR 2005 - Anchor Environmental. King County groundwater protection program: Ambient groundwater monitoring 2001-2004 results. Seattle: King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Water and Land Resources Division (WLR); 2005. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Kreutzwiser 2011* - Kreutzwiser R, de Loë R, Imgrund K, Conboy MJ, Simpson H, Plummer R. Understanding stewardship behaviour: Factors facilitating and constraining private water well stewardship. Journal of Environmental Management. 2011;92(4):1104–14. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Sahrawat 2010* - Sahrawat KL, Wani SP, Pathak P, Rego TJ. Managing natural resources of watersheds in the semi-arid tropics for improved soil and water quality: A review. Agricultural Water Management. 2010;97(3):375–81. Accessed on November 24, 2015

Citations - Implementation

FL DEP-GWP - Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Ground water program. Accessed on November 20, 2015
King County-GPP - King County Water and Land Resources Division (WLR). Groundwater protection program. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Las Vegas-GMP - Southern Nevada Water Authority. Groundwater management program. Accessed on November 24, 2015
MN DNR-GMP - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Minnesota DNR groundwater management program. Accessed on November 23, 2015
MWSP - Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP). Taking care of our water. Accessed on November 24, 2015
SGA-GMP - Sacramento Groundwater Authority (SGA). Groundwater management program. Accessed on November 23, 2015
WI DATCP-ACCP - Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Water quality: Agricultural chemical cleanup program (ACCP). Accessed on November 23, 2015
WI DNR-Groundwater - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Groundwater. Accessed on November 23, 2015

Page Last Updated

June 3, 2015

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