With those learnings, we moved onto the second webinar of the series with the theme – ‘Understanding groundwater governance (gwG) through transdisciplinary science’ keeping cognizance of embracing a multi-pronged approach to address something as complex as groundwater resources. The sessions drew our attention to the issues of aquifer diversity coupled with social diversity that exists in many regions of the world, especially India. The concept of a groundwater typology can be used to develop an improved understanding of aquifer system diversity superimposed with various patterns of groundwater usage. The need to identify and acknowledge these aquifer and social diversities was stressed.
Further, it must also be recognised that a top-down approach in gwG is highly rigid and often limits the responses to various problems. Moreover, repercussions of linear approaches to managing water resources at the basin/village-scale were highlighted while emphasising the need to understand the interplay between surface and groundwater resources at local and regional scales. Another important aspect of gwG that needs more attention is the highly undervalued issue of water quality. The lack of a sense of urgency concerning water quality and associated public health issues necessitates inclusion of groundwater quality as part of the larger groundwater governance discourse in India. It was also pointed out that the disciplines of groundwater science and planetary health need to come together to address the public health problems arising out of water quality problems. Moreover, demystification of science for the local community and their capacity building is essential because – ‘if they don’t know, how will they govern’. Finally, we must all be cognizant that ‘we have never lived with the aquifers, only on them’ and perhaps that’s where we need to make amends.