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IWA Specialist Groundwater Conference 2016 was jointly organized by the International Water Association (IWA), Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources (JCI), UNESCO’s Water for Sustainable Development and Adaptation to Climate Change Centre and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The Conference was also supported by the International Association of Hydrogeologists. Sixty papers were submitted and there were more than 150 attendees from 22 countries and 4 continents (Europe, North America, Asia and Africa).

Originally, the papers were supposed to be grouped into five thematic areas but the Scientific

Committee ultimately decided on four:

  1. Groundwater management (13 papers),
  2. Alluvial aquifers (15 papers),
  3. Karst (11 papers), and
  4. Innovative technologies (10 papers).

The papers were ranked from outstanding to very good, and the topics covered included various scientific and technological innovations. A number of papers will be recommended for publication in peer-reviewed IWA journals. 

Eleven invited papers were presented on the first day of the Conference held in the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts. The remaining papers were presented on the second day.

Several general messages have been extracted from the papers and the subject matter they discussed. Considering the predicted population growth, from 7 to nearly 9 billion in the near future, and expected climate change, pressures on available water resources will most likely increase. Future trends in all groundwater management segments were addressed by thematic area based on the increasing water demand on one hand, and the need to maintain existing and develop new water resources, on the other. However, their protection from uncontrolled pollution, especially in undeveloped countries, is of crucial importance. Global trends are believed to be moving in the following directions:

  1. Supporting multi-disciplinary approaches to the utilization, protection and management of alluvial and karstic aquifers, as two essential groundwater-bearing porous media;
  2. Assessing the impact of climate change and extreme meteorological events on the quantity and quality of groundwater;
  3. Improving groundwater management in connection with associated terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and integrating it into river basin management plans, with special emphasis of material flow management;
  4. Increasing international (social, political and economic) disputes and climate change have a clear negative effect on groundwater resources, where the full extent of the impact is unknown at present;
  5. Transboundary water management problems can only be solved if partner states have a clear science-based understanding of the actual situation, which makes it possible to assess the consequences of water management decisions. The decision-making groundwork needs to be prepared by expert groups.
  6. Developing novel methods for defining the discharge capacity of wells and well fields within existing or new source areas. This includes a method for determining well screen losses and their correlation with groundwater chemistry, grain size, bacterial species and activity, and encrustations. Understanding of mechanisms of well losses is in turn necessary for determining entrance velocities and developing successful well design criteria, such as the screen surface area and the number of laterals of radial collector wells;
  7. Upgrading of simulation models of groundwater flow in different porous media;
  8. Monitoring of the transformation of groundwater quality, micropollutants and biogeochemical processes in aquifers;
  9. Developing monitoring protocols and techniques for utilized aquifers under pressure from increased demand;
  10. Strengthening karst aquifer pollution control, and preservation of karst groundwater quality;
  11. Investigation of the fate of emerging groundwater pollutants, both during transport from surface to groundwater and in treatment;  
  12. Improving laboratory methods and technologies for controlling groundwater quality;
  13. Developing more efficient and less costly methods for removing specific pollutants from drinking water by sorption, oxidation and photolysis; and
  14. Testing of innovative water treatment technologies on a pilot scale and under field conditions is essential to allow for their potential application in practice.

Ideas were exchanged, novel points of view presented, and new challenges placed before the Conference attendees. Leading global scientists and representatives from international and domestic associations concerned with groundwater (IWA, IAH, ICPDR, IAWD, Serbian Water Pollution Control Society, Serbian Geological Society), the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia, the Universities of Belgrade and Novi Sad, research institutes (JCI, Vinča), the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, public water utilities, and other stakeholders in the field of water actively participated in the Conference.

The IWA Specialist Groundwater Conference 2016 is the third such international conference co-organized by Jaroslav Černi Institute, UNESCO and the International Water Association and held in Belgrade. It has therefore become a traditional forum for scientists and practitioners to exchange ideas in the field of groundwater. A step forward was made on this particular occasion, given that in addition to the traditional partners (IWA, UNESCO, ICPDR, IAWD), IAH was also a major contributor to the significance and success of the Conference.

We are looking forward to meeting you again in Belgrade in 2020.


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