Directions for social research to underpin improved groundwater management

Michael Mitchell, Alan Curtis, Emily Sharp, Emily Mendham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    Improvements in groundwater management require strategies to change human behaviour, yet there has been limited social research in the broad arena of groundwater management. This paper provides a critical review of the small but expanding literature on that topic to identify future directions for social researchers. Comprehensive search methods identified almost three hundred potentially relevant publications, which were sorted thematically and assessed in terms of their theoretical underpinning and the evidence used to support key findings. This process enabled the authors to identify a small number of high quality publications and to identify future research opportunities. The latter includes analysing how concepts of risk and sustainable yield are constructed differently by stakeholders, especially related to divisive issues concerning coal seam gas developments and reforms that reduce irrigation allocations; how governance arrangements can be improved to achieve more effective collaborative management of groundwater, especially if managed aquifer recharge is to be more widely implemented in rural agricultural contexts; and the role that trust and social norms can play in changing groundwater use practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)223-231
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Hydrology
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2012


    • Capacity building
    • Collaborative management
    • Community-based NRM
    • Groundwater governance
    • Landholder decision-making
    • Stakeholder engagement


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