Peer-reviewed Article

Towards Sustainable Groundwater Management in Asian Cities-Lessons from Osaka

In IRES Vol.6 No.2 Series:

Groundwater is at risk in many cities in Asia as a result of excessive abstraction. Without proper groundwater management, the precious resource will deteriorate further. In cities such as Bangkok (Thailand), Tianjin (China), and Bandung (Indonesia) groundwater problems such as dropping water tables and land subsidence have been observed, and national and local government have taken some measures to overcome the problems. The city of Osaka in Japan also experienced severe land subsidence and dropping groundwater levels from 1950 to 1960, but intensive measures to stop over-exploitation of groundwater succeeded in mitigating the problems. The key to Osaka's success is a combination of controlling groundwater abstraction and provision of surface water as an alternative water source. In the long run, however, such intensive measures created other problems in water management such as a rise of the groundwater level, which has caused damage to underground building infrastructure. The experience of Osaka tells us the importance of flexibility and a long-term perspective in policymaking and implementation.