Articles | Volume 24, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 24, 489–500, 2020

Special issue: HESS Opinions 2020

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 24, 489–500, 2020
Opinion article
30 Jan 2020
Opinion article | 30 Jan 2020

HESS Opinions: The myth of groundwater sustainability in Asia

Franklin W. Schwartz et al.

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Cited articles

Alley, W. M., Reilly, T. E., and Franke, O. L.: Sustainability of Ground-Water Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Circular 1186, available at: (last access: 18 July 2018), 79 pp., 1999. 
Bazerman, M. H. and Watkins, M. D.: Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming and How to Prevent Them, Harvard Business School Press, 336 pp., 2004. 
Biswas, A. K. and Hartley, K.: China's groundwater crisis, Asia & the Pacific Policy Society Policy Forum, available at: (last access: 28 August 2019), 2017. 
Biswas, A., Tortajada, C., and Saklani, U.: Pumped dry: India's invisible and accelerating groundwater crisis, Asia & the Pacific Policy Society Policy Forum, available at: (last access: 26 April 2019), 2017. 
Bloomberg: World's largest water diversion plan won't quench China's thirst, available at: (last access: 15 May 2018), 2017. 
Short summary
We are concerned about the sad state of affairs around groundwater in the developing countries of Asia and the obvious implications for sustainability. Groundwater production for irrigated agriculture has led to water-level declines that continue to worsen. Yet in the most populous countries, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran, there are only token efforts towards evidence-based sustainable management. It is unrealistic to expect evidence-based groundwater sustainability to develop any time soon.
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