For decision makers and managers of the public water resources


Demographic growth and the development of our society result in a steady increase of our needs in potable water. Groundwater is an important resource, less exposed to risks of pollution and to climatic fluctuations than surface waters. However, the former resource can prove to be more difficult to exploit than the latter ones due to the stronger heterogeneity of the underground in terms of physico-chemical properties (porosity, permeability, chemical reactivity ...). This marked heterogeneity leads to a very large variabily of the water velocities and therefore of the transfer times of water and of the elements carried by it. In the framework of the H+ Observatory, the joint development of observation setups, experimental protocols, measurements tools and modeling methods shall allow a far better quantitative understanding of aquifer systems in the long term, and therefore lead to the promotion of better tools for managing and protecting the water resource.

For scientists:

The difficulties met when attempting to predict water and solute transport in hydrogeological media stem from three main origins:

- The underground is generally poorly characterized, because direct measurements are only made possible through drilled wells.

- Heterogeneities (such as fractures) are present at all scales in the medium (from the micrometer to the kilometer), which makes upscaling, that is, the extrapolation of field measurements to predictions at the scale of the aquifer, a crucial question.

- These flow and transport heterogeneities can be coupled to (bio-)chemical reactions at the rock-water interface.

Important scientific breakthroughs have occurred in the last years, both in terms of theory and modelling, and through laboratory experiments. It is now necessary to perform perfectly-documented experiments directly on natural systems, on time scales consistent with their dynamics. The H+ Observatory meets this fundamental need of the scientific community, by allowing the mutualization of infrastructures and field equipment, the development of new tools, the filing and warehousing of field data and its accessibility by the whole community.

For scientific training and for the public

The H+ observatory has undertaken a very active policy of communication towards the non-scientific public through conferences, visits of hydrogeological sites, exhibitions, and informations released on its internet site. Its goal is to meet both the growing preoccupation of consumers with respect to water quality, and the public need to understand the large environmental stakes of the coming decades.

The Observatory is also a powerful tool placed at the disposal of universities for the training of students, allowing universities to make students familiar with the true working conditions of an hydrogeologist, and to provide them with the most uptodate and powerful investigation and modeling tools.