Taming the groundwater chaos
ABSTRACT: This chapter deals with how to tame the Spanish groundwater chaos by identifying examples-defined by the absence of actual control or order in the governance and management of the resource combined with physical deterioration. Aquifer use has intensified in the last 50 years, in many cases over the stipulated recharge rate. The Spanish law articulated since 1985 developed measures to regulate and control abstractions by declaring an aquifer overexploited, yet these measures have failed in most cases to make users comply and ultimately improve the quantitative and qualitative status of the resource as required under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Yet there have been spontaneous user led initiatives, framing collective action institutions. These young groundwater collective institutions developed along a spectrum of available organizational formats, both in the public and in the private domain, reflect the diversity of groundwater rights. An evolution of collective action is emerging with the focus on reducing risk through the development of a portfolio of water resources: surface, groundwater, desalinated, recharged or recycled. The most important development has been the introduction of flexibility of access to multiple types of water resources. An example on this latter aspect is presented, with the case of three groundwater bodies in Almería: Campo de Dalías, Medio-Bajo Andarax, and Campo de Níjar, where a set of diverse institutional settings has been established in order to tame the chaos, but which leaves some questions unanswered on the overall resilience of the overall system to intensive groundwater use.