esm_15_Reading_Safe Yield - Sophocleous - Bul239chp2

esm_15_Reading_Safe Yield - Sophocleous - Bul239chp2 -...

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S OPHOCLEOUS 61 CHAPTER 2 On the Elusive Concept of Safe Yield and the Response of Interconnected Stream-aquifer Systems to Development Marios Sophocleous Kansas Geological Survey, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas Introduction The time has passed when abundant supplies of water were readily available for development at low economic, social, and environmental cost. According to Hufschmidt (1993), we are now entering the period of a “maturing water economy” with increasing competition for access to fixed supplies, a growing risk of water pollution, and sharply higher economic, social, and environmental costs of development. It should be understood that most of the available water in western states, including Kansas, has been developed, and that future water management is going to depend heavily on sustaining existing supplies. The great challenge facing the world today is to cope with the impact of economic growth on environmental pro- cesses. The concept of sustainable development emerged during the late 1980’s as a unifying approach to concerns over the environment, economic development, and the quality of life. The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), better known as the Brundtland Commission, defined sustainable development as “. . . development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Water is not only essential to sustain life, but it also plays an integral role in ecosystem support, economic development, community well-being, and cultural values. How all these values, which sometimes conflict, are to be prioritized, which are to be sustained, and in what fashion, are still unresolved questions (Gleick et al., 1995). The concept of sustainable development is intended to provide a framework within which the environment can be properly managed to support economic development while providing adequate resources for the future. This has lent weight to arguments for proactive rather than reactive environmental policies. However, despite the progress which has been made in defining the goals of sustainable development, the mechanisms to bring about these changes remain abstract. The challenge of the 1990’s is to turn the principles of sustainable development into achievable policies that lead to positive changes in this direction. Science can assist by exploring the implications of different interpretations of sustainability. Although science cannot say that one particular interpretation is the “correct” one for society, sustainable solutions will have to be based on fundamentally sound hydrologic analyses and related technology. A perennial supply of ground water or surface water can be assured if no more water is withdrawn than enters the system over the long term. To evaluate existing and potential development of dependable water supplies in a given area, a hydrologic budget is needed—a statement of the balance between the water that enters the area during a
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esm_15_Reading_Safe Yield - Sophocleous - Bul239chp2 -...

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