International Law and Freshwater
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International Law and Freshwater

The Multiple Challenges

Edited by Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Christina Leb and Mara Tignino

International Law and Freshwater connects recent legal developments through the breadth and synergies of a multidisciplinary analysis. It addresses such critical issues as water security, the right to water, international cooperation and dispute resolution, State succession to transboundary watercourse treaties, and facets of international economic law, including trade in ‘virtual water’ and the impacts of ‘land grabs’.
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Chapter 10: Transboundary water resources and international law: the example of the aquifer management of the Geneva region (Switzerland and France)

Gabriel de los Cobos


Geneva’s drinking water is provided from the Lake of Geneva (roughly 80 percent of total supply) and about a dozen wells (accounting for around 20 percent of supply) by pumping from Genevese groundwater. The aquifer straddles the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland and the French department of Haute-Savoie (Upper Savoy) and is currently used on the Swiss side for ten wells and for five wells across the French border (Figure 10.1). During the 1960s and 1970s, as a result of uncontrolled overpumping and the lack of coordination among distributing and beneficiary entities, groundwater levels fell drastically, to the point where certain dried-out wells had to be closed. That was when the warning bell was sounded in the face of this overexploitation of groundwater resources. The decision was then taken to set up an artificial aquifer recharge plant so as to recover use of the wells and take advantage of the large volumes of water that could be stocked from the Genevese water table. An artificial recharge system was, therefore, inaugurated in 1980 to abstract water from the Arve River—which is the aquifer’s main natural recharge source—and treat channel it into the aquifer.

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