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Stockholm, le 13 Août 1998


Water Prize Stockholm Groundwater Research Earns Tel Aviv University Professor the World’s Top Water Prize

(Stockholm, Sweden) Gedeon Dagan, a professor of engineering and groundwater expert from Israel’s Tel Aviv University, will receive the 1998 Stockholm Water Prize, the world’s premier award for water quality protection, from the hands of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf on August 13 at the Stockholm City Hall.

The Stockholm Water Prize is the global environmental award presented annually to the individual, institution, organization or company that has made the most substantial contribution toward protecting the world’s water resources through research or action. It honors outstanding achievements in science, engineering, technology, education or public policy that lead to increased knowledge of, and respect for, the water environment. HM King Carl XVI Gustaf is Patron of the Stockholm Water Prize.

Professor Gedeon Dagan

*Photo source

Professor Dagan will receive the USD $150,000 award for his pioneering research on the relationship between pollutants, subsurface formations, transport processes, and groundwater. His research leads to the application of effective strategies for protecting and restoring groundwater, which constitutes 97% of the world’s useable freshwater. Groundwater is a crucial source for drinking water, irrigated agriculture and sustainable natural ecosystems.

As the basis for honoring Professor Dagan with the award, the Prize's Nominating Committee noted: "Professor Dagan has been awarded the 1998 Stockholm Water Prize for having established the basis of a new field within geohydrology, where contaminant spreading in the subsurface environment is determined in such a way that it accounts for heterogeneity and for biochemical processes."

Israeli hydrogeological scholarship has long been world leading, and within this scientific atmosphere Professor Dagan has contributed uniquely during the past 20 years to the understanding of groundwater pollution and its possible prevention and control. Professor Dagan’s research is relevant for developing means for short- and long-term protection of groundwater resources.

In particular, he has contributed greatly in aquifer characterization and monitoring, predictability and design criteria. This research is important because groundwater protection is hindered by difficulties in observing and characterizing the subsurface. Therefore, effective strategies for protecting and restoring groundwater require realistic predictions of the effects of different management options.

For aquifer characterization and monitoring, Professor Dagan proposed an effective framework for statistical quantification of the effects of subsurface soil and rock variations on water quality. --more-- On predictability, his theoretical results were the first to provide a rational basis for assessing the limitations of predictive modelling and quantifying prediction uncertainty related to subsurface pollution and restoration. Because of this, new avenues for more realistic analyses have opened in areas where prediction uncertainty is critical, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis. In design criteria, his theoretical basis for coupling hydrodynamic and biochemical processes in the heterogeneous subsurface environment enables more realistic pollution prevention and control measures to be set.

A noted researcher, educator, and author, Professor Dagan has been on the faculty of Tel Aviv University since 1976. He has had 10 visiting professorships, including those at the University of California (Berkeley, USA); Imperial College (London, England); Ecole des Mines (Paris, France); and Princeton University (Princeton, USA). Professor Dagan has received numerous awards and honors from universities and professional societies during his 40-year career.

Professor Dagan joins a distinguished list of past Prize Laureates. They include Dr. David Schindler, University of Edmonton, Canada (1991); the Department of Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark under the leadership of Professor Poul Harremöes (1992); Dr. Madhav Atmaram Chitale, New Dehli, India (1993); Dr. Takeshi Kubo, Tokyo, Japan (1994); WaterAid and Mr. Jon Lane London, England (1995); Dr. Jörg Imberger, University of Western Australia (1996); and Professor Peter S. Eagleson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA (1997).

Professor Dagan hopes to draw even more attention to groundwater, which is unique from a hydrogeological perspective. Compared to lakes, rivers and streams, the time scales of groundwater flow are long. It may take years or even decades for water to find its way down through the soil to reach the water table, the level at which the ground is fully saturated. Once there, water may remain underground for tens or even thousands of years before it reappears in the surface. Some of the water in the Chalk aquifer that lies under London fell as rain as long ago as the last ice age.

According to one estimate, on average the water vapor in the atmosphere is renewed every 8 days, stream water every 16 days, soil moisture once a year, wetland water every five years and lake water every 17 years. The average for groundwater is 1400 years, but the recycle time for some aquifers is much longer than this.

The conception of groundwater as a subsurface “water body,“ harboring an ecosystem is difficult and not yet well developed. “When water in rivers and lakes becomes polluted,“ Dagan says, “the effects of pollution are known relatively quickly. Because of this, people demand action, are supported by the media and get the attention of politicians, who are interested in taking steps for prevention or purification. Groundwater is hidden and therefore invisible for the user.“

And there are many users, both in the developed and developing world. Estimates vary, but the proportion of potable water supply derived from groundwater ranges from 50% to 90% in much of the world. Overuse of groundwater - pumping it out faster than it is naturally recharged - is shortening the life of water availability in China, India, Western U.S., Mexico, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. Water tables have been dropping 3 to 6 feet per year in Beijing, China. Mexico City groundwater pumping exceeds recharge by 80 percent, causing buildings to sink.

In short, this means that problems related to groundwater - mainly the inadequate control of groundwater abstraction, resulting usually in some form of over-exploitation; and the pollution of groundwater resources, usually by cities, industry or agriculture - will take a long time to correct, which is why Professor Dagan’s work is so important and drew recognition in the form of this year’s Stockholm Water Prize.

Dave Trouba
Tel. +46 8-736 20 78
e-mail: dave.trouba@siwi.org

For more information, or to receive a nomination form, contact the Stockholm Water Prize
c/o Stockholm International Water Institute
Tel: +46 8 736 20 08
Fax: +46 8 736 20 22
e-mail: siwi@siwi.org
web site : www.siwi.org

Professsor Gedeon Dagan
Faculty of Engineering, University of Tel Aviv
Tel: +972 3 640 83 92

(*) Photo source of Professor Gedeon Dagan : "NewsPoint on the Internet", www.jbab.se/direkt/water

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