Rationales behind irrationality of decision making in groundwater quality management

Daniel Ronen, Shaul Sorek, Jack Gilron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This issue paper presents how certain policies regarding management of groundwater quality lead to unexpected and undesirable results, despite being backed by seemingly reasonable assumptions. This happened in part because the so-called reasonable decisions were not based on an integrative and quantitative methodology. The policies surveyed here are: (1) implementation of a program for aquifer restoration to pristine conditions followed, after failure, by leaving it to natural attenuation; (2) the "Forget About The Aquifer" (FATA) approach, while ignoring possible damage that contaminated groundwater can inflict on the other environmental systems; (3) groundwater recharge in municipal areas while neglecting the presence of contaminants in the unsaturated zone and conditions exerted by upper impervious surfaces; (4) the Soil Aquifer Treatment (SAT) practice considering aquifers to be "filters of infinite capacity"; and (5) focusing on well contamination vs. aquifer contamination to conveniently defer grappling with the problem of the aquifer as a whole. Possible reasons for the failure of these seemingly rational policies are: (1) the characteristic times of processes associated with groundwater that are usually orders of magnitude greater than the residence times of decision makers in their managerial position; (2) proliferation of improperly trained "groundwater experts" or policymakers with sectoral agendas alongside legitimate differences of opinion among groundwater scientists; (3) the neglect of the cyclic nature of natural phenomena; and (4) ignoring future long-term costs because of immediate costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalGround Water
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Rationales behind irrationality of decision making in groundwater quality management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this