Factsheet #22

Groundwater users associations

Instrument Type


Governance Level


Governance Mode


Water management topics addressed

Drought & water scarcity
Water abstraction for irrigation and other economic activities
Water quality issues due to nutrient pollution
Water quality issues: Other reasons

Implementation requirements

Financial capacity


Human capacity


Political buy-in


Timeframe for implementation


#22: Groundwater users associations


Groundwater users associations gather all users (and NGOs) to allow regular meetings to discuss, coordinate and decide on management questions regarding their aquifer.


The involvement of local actors and citizens is key for managing rivers in a sustainable way, better coordinating public action across levels of government and reducing conflicts at the local level. Widening public participation is seen as a means to increase transparency of environmental policies and citizens’ compliance with it. Transparency in the establishment of objectives, the imposition of measures and the reporting of standards is seen to empower citizens to influence the direction of environmental protection.

Example: The Groundwater Users association of Eastern Mancha, Spain.

The Eastern Mancha is one of the largest aquifers in Spain. Groundwater users organized creating in 1994 an association called Junta Central de Regantes de la Mancha Oriental (JCRMO), which includes mainly farmers and Irrigation Communities, but also public and industrial users. The different members of the association work together to defend collectively their common interests and manage the area’s seven groundwater bodies to develop a sustainable utilization of their water resources. To this end, the JCRMO issues every year a document known as “Exploitation Plan” which includes a set of criteria for the authorization of water use for its members. Reported cases of non-compliance with the plan may eventually lead to the imposition of sanctions including monetary fines by the JCRMO Water Jury. Notice how this Jury is an internal body of the association and is not part of the Water Authority. This type of organization configures as a form of partnership between the administration and the farmers, where the latter set and enforce standards for under the supervision of the former.


Lopez-Gunn E. (2003). The Role of Collective Action in Water Governance: A Comparative
Study of Groundwater User Associations in La Mancha Aquifers in Spain. Water International, 28:3 367-378 (pp. 371, 373).

Junta Central de Regantes de la Mancha Oriental (n.d.).
https://www.jcrmo.org/ Retrieved on 22 September 2020

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