Unlike rivers, which are visible linear features in the landscape, aquifers are three-dimensional structures hidden underground. As a result, the aquifer boundaries are unknown and therefore not well defined. This is also the case in Western Asia, where regional hydrogeological specificities pose additional challenges to the identification and delineation of aquifer systems. This Inventory identifies and describes 17 aquifer systems in 17 separate chapters. These aquifer systems are located across the three Western Asia sub-regions: the Arabian Peninsula, the Mashrek and Mesopotamia (including Taurus-Zagros). Each groundwater basin chapter follows the standard structure outlined in the table below and provides information on all relevant keywords, to the extent possible.

Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2010. Source: Anouk Pappers.

Chapter Structure

Heading Content
Summary Executive summary, Basin facts
Introduction Location, Area, Climate, Population, Other aquifers in the area, Information sources
Hydrogeology - Aquifer Characteristics Aquifer configuration (geometry, depth, outcrop areas, subsurface extent), Stratigraphy, Aquifer thickness, Aquifer type (confined/unconfined) and Aquifer parameters (transmissivity, storativity)
Hydrogeology – Groundwater Recharge, Flow regime (water levels, gradients, flow direction), Storage, Discharge (springs, vertical leakage), Water quality, Exploitability
Groundwater Use Groundwater abstraction and use (timeline of development, areas and sector of use, abstraction volumes), Groundwater quality issues (return flows, salinization, pollution), Sustainability issues (trends, over-abstraction)
Agreements, Cooperation & Outlook Agreements (treaties, Memoranda of Understanding, ongoing negotiations), Cooperation (timeline, form, mechanism, issues of conflict), Outlook (main management issues, opportunities)

Disi area, Jordan, 2009. Source: Andreas Renck.

The 'Overview & Methodology: Groundwater' chapter introduces these shared aquifer systems, by defining the terminology used in the groundwater chapters and then presenting the methodology and approaches that helped identify, delineate, characterize and describe the shared aquifer systems in the region. The aquifer systems are then categorized and briefly described. Finally, the structure of the groundwater chapters and the parameters used to characterize the aquifers and aquifer systems are outlined.


The Qandil Mountains, Iraq, 2010. Source: Stefan Jurgensen.

List of Groundwater Chapters