Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater – it is sometimes referred to as geohydrology or groundwater hydrology. Hydrogeology deals with how water gets into the ground (recharge), how it flows in the subsurface (through aquifers) and how groundwater interacts with the surrounding soil and rock (the geology).
Hydrogeologists apply this knowledge to many practical uses. They might:
- Design and construct water wells for drinking water supply, irrigation schemes and other purposes;
- Try to discover how much water is available to sustain water supplies so that these do not adversely affect the environment – for example, by depleting natural baseflows to rivers and important wetland ecosystems;
- Investigate the quality of the water to ensure that it is fit for its intended use;
- Where the groundwater is polluted, they design schemes to try and clean up this pollution;
- Design construction dewatering schemes and deal with groundwater problems associated with mining;
- Help to harness geothermal energy through groundwater-based heat pumps.
Hydrogeologists are involved in attempting to solve some of the big questions facing the world today, including sustainable water supply, food and energy production; environmental protection; and coping with climate change. They work closely with a wide range of people, from individual farmers and well owners; to other scientists and engineers; to agronomists, sociologists, economists, policy makers, regulators and planners.
IAH is a charity concerned with the safe use and protection of groundwater sources, as well as being a global association for hydrogeologists. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016. IAH members range from students and those early in their careers, right through to those who have have spent their entire professional lives working as hydrogeologists, or in jobs relating to groundwater. The association facilitates information sharing through its national chapters (groups), specialist networks and commissions, through meetings and events, and more. You are welcome to find out more about our association, its efforts, and if you work or plan to work in the field of groundwater, to participate.