In ecological science, the term resilience encompasses two aspects of a system: the ability to resist long term damage, and the time taken to recover from a perturbation (Gunderson, 2000).
Adapting this approach to groundwater resources we have two scenarios:
For many people the more important issue is the resilience of the water supplies dependent on groundwater rather than the actual groundwater resource itself.
A sustainable approach to developing groundwater resources usually involves balancing the long term abstraction with the long term recharge after taking into account the needs of the environment. However, research from the behaviour of water sources during droughts has shown two important issues beyond this simple water balance approach:
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Calow, R C, MacDonald, A M, Nicol, A L, and Robins, N S. 2010. Ground Water Security and Drought in Africa: Linking Availability, Access and Demand. Ground Water, 48: 246–256.
Gunderson, L H. 2000. Ecological resilience — in theory and application. Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 31: 425–439.
MacDonald, A M, Calow, R C, MacDonald, D M J, Darling, W G, and Ó Dochartaigh, B É. 2009. What impact will climate change have on rural water supplies on Africa? Hydrological Sciences Journal, 54: 690–703.