Next step on road map towards groundwater monitoring network in Guyana

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In 2017, the Hydrometeorological Service of Guyana (Hydromet) reinstated a dedicated Groundwater Section, after it had been inactive for about 20 years. To assist Hydromet in this process, WMO and IGRAC joined the initiative to design a roadmap for the strengthening of groundwater monitoring in Guyana. The next dot on this roadmap towards a fully functional groundwater monitoring network was a stakeholder consultation, which took place from 27 November to the 1st of December.

Training on groundwater monitoring and data collection & processing

The programme started at the Hydromet office in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, with an introductory session. Besides explanatory talks about Hydromet’s work and its efforts in reviving the groundwater section, this session also laid out the objectives and expectations from all parties involved for the project as well as the stakeholder consultation. After first reviewing the archives and having several talks to understand the activities and expertise of the different sections involved, IGRAC Groundwater Specialist Claudia Ruz Vargas gave a training session on groundwater monitoring. The aim of this training was to show the groundwater section what other countries do in regarding groundwater monitoring, and to give an impression of what is possible in terms of processing data collected via monitoring networks. This would serve as inspiration when defining the kind of products Hydromet would like to produce once collecting their own data.

The participants were presented with an overview of processing methods used to interpret groundwater level data across different countries globally, and various reporting mechanisms. Apart from groundwater quantity, also groundwater quality monitoring was covered in this training, with the recently developed groundwater quality guidelines and Groundwater Quality Index being the backbone this part of the training. Finally, the participants gained hands-on experience with the usage of IGRAC’s Global Groundwater Information System, exploring its functionalities and assessing its potential utility for the Groundwater Section.

Water, conservation, mining and food & beverage sector Guyana

The third and fourth day were dedicated to visit key stakeholders of Hydromet that also deal with or use groundwater, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Guyana Geology Mines Commission (GGMC), Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) and the food and beverage manufacturer Banks DIH. The objective was to understand if there are common goals, if a new groundwater network would benefit them, if there are groundwater data stored by these organisations that could be used by the Hydromet’s groundwater section, and if there are products that the this section could produce that would be useful to these stakeholders.

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Groundwater well at Banks DIH
Groundwater well at Banks DIH (by Claudia Ruz Vargas)

Wellfields in rural Lethem

The fifth, and last, day of the workshop was a field visit. Claudia Ruz Vargas went with two colleagues of the groundwater section to Lethem, a small town towards the Brazilian border, to visit some groundwater wells. This provided a better understanding of how groundwater is extracted and managed in rural areas, and which steps a needed to be taken to eventually include them in the future groundwater monitoring network

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Hand-dug well in Lethem (by Claudia Ruz Vargas)
Hand-dug well in Lethem (by Claudia Ruz Vargas)

Next steps

This stakeholder consultation has provided the input needed for the Roadmap for the “Strengthening of Groundwater Monitoring in Guyana” that IGRAC will develop and this roadmap will be fully integrated with Hydromet’s Strategic Plan for monitoring of Guyana’s groundwater resources. And since IGRAC’s mission is to support decision making on groundwater, this activity fits IGRAC like a glove.