The IAH Network aims at promoting the development of tools for gaining a better understanding of the specific hydrological process dynamics in coastal areas and for improving the assessment, development and management of water resources endangered by saltwater intrusion.
The network responds to the interest expressed in the recommendations issued on different occasions by UNESCO and IAEA for studying coastal areas in the frame of joint programs in cooperation with other international agencies.
Special emphasis is placed on education, specifically the organization of teaching and training activities, and promoting greater and closer international cooperation in order to accelerate progress and train qualified practitioners for optimizing action especially in developing countries.
In most cases, intensive groundwater abstraction in coastal aquifers has produced seawater intrusion and significant piezometric level lowering. Common management actions include remediation by artificial recharge, decrease and relocation of extractions and freshwater injection or extraction of saltwater, and in some cases seawater and brackish groundwater desalination, although generally no management actions occur. Legal and regulatory framework to protect groundwater resources are generally scarce or nonexistent, though in some cases constitute the support of an effective management plan.
The major challenge is the lack of awareness of society regarding aquifer common problems, and also underfunding for scientific investigation. Sustainable groundwater use must rely on adequate evaluation of aquifer characteristics. In this respect, international integration could improve promotion of sustainable management in endangered coastal ecosystems.
The most relevant subjects concerning saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers, such as geochemistry, applied geophysics, case studies, aquifer management, submarine groundwater discharge, impacts of increased water demand on coastal water resources and ecosystems, effects of sea level rise and climate change, variable density flow and transport modeling, and new developing methods to characterize coastal groundwater systems.
Attention will be focused also on the monitoring and catchwork techniques for the development of alternative resources represented by submarine springs in karstic environment. The development of monitoring networks for controlling SWI through the acquisition of parameters aiming at quantifying the fresh-salt water equilibrium state is in progress.