Transboundary Aquifers_ Conceptual Models for Development of International Law
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More than one-half of the world's population is dependent on ground water for everyday uses such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene. In fact, it is the most extracted natural resource in the world. As a result of growing populations and expanding economies, many aquifers today are being depleted while others are being contaminated. Notwithstanding the world's considerable reliance on this resource, ground water resources have long received only secondary attention as compared to surface water, especially among legislatures and policymakers. Today, while there are hundreds of treaties governing transboundary rivers and lakes, there is only one international agreement that directly addresses a transboundary aquifer. Given that many of the aquifers on which humanity so heavily relies cross international borders, there is a considerable gap in the sound management, allocation, and protection of such resources. In order to prevent future disputes over transboundary aquifers and to maximize the beneficial use of this resource, international law must be clarified as it applies to transboundary ground water resources. Moreover, it must be defined with a firm basis in sound scientific understanding. In this paper we offer six conceptual models is which ground water resources can have transboundary consequences. The models are intended to help in assessing the applicability and scientific soundness of existing and proposed rules governing transboundary ground water resources. In addition, we consider the development of international law as it applies to ground water resources and make recommendations based on the models and principles of hydrogeology. The objective is the development of clear, logical, and science-based norms of state conducts as they relate to aquifers that traverse political boundaries.
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