GroundwatCH

Groundwater / Global Change

Programme 

universities:

What do our alumni say? What made them decide to enroll, what is their background and how do they see their future? Read about their experiences here.

China

This Erasmus programme focuses on groundwater and global changes which is of growing importance nowadays and in the future. Two years of study in three different countries is an excellent experience to build up professional skills. Moreover, it is a good opportunity to meet classmates from all over the world, enjoy Europe and have a lot of fun! 

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Nigeria

I have always looked forward to acquire up to date and modern professional skills in the management of water resources. Thus, the Groundwater and Global Change programme and with special focus on climate change offers exactly what I wanted.

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Sri Lanka

Usage of groundwater is one of the best possible solutions for the arising water demand in the world. This GroundwatCH master programme is specially designed to address those problems which can be severely affected by the predicted climate change.

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Colombia

The partners of the program are recognized institutions in the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology and natural sciences with very good staff and a lot of experience in these areas. All together with the opportunity of studying in three different countries makes the study of this program a unique life experience.

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Brazil

I was already involved in this field of work for some years and I liked the chance of link this with global changes in order to be able to better analyse, understand and even propose mitigation measurements for future problems related to water resources.

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Min Lu, China
What made you decide to study this particular programme?

I had been working for a few years after my bachelor degree. Since I already got some work experiences, I wanted to further develop my professional skills and build up my knowledge regarding water factor. This groundwater programme is a new Erasmus master programme and seems nice. It is about water beneath the surface which I did not know much before, so I decided to join it and try something new. So far, I really like it a lot.

Could you briefly say something about groundwater (/climate change/ freshwater availability) issues in your country?

Groundwater is one of the main water sources in China, especially in the north central regions where agriculture is the dominate factor and less surface water is available for use. To meet the water demand for agriculture, a large amount of groundwater has been pumped for the past decades. Some of the exploited aquifers are even fossil aquifers. Due to the large deficit between recharge and withdrawal of groundwater, land subsidence and cones of depression develop in some cities in the North China Plain. These cause unsustainable development, significant social and economical loss. Another unavoidable issue is the deterioration of groundwater quality due to agricultural and industrial activities. Overuse of fertilizers in agricultural practices and lose control of liquid or solid wastes from industrial factories make the groundwater quality worsen.

 

What is your professional/educational background? 

I got a bachelor degree in irrigation and drainage engineering and worked as a hydraulic engineer for five years before I joined the programme.

 
How do you experience living and studying in three places in Europe?

The experiences of living and studying in three different countries/cities across Europe are great. We are moving from south European Portugal to western coastal Netherlands, then to the eastern inland Germany. The three counties have different vibes. Portugal is a bit relaxing, Netherlands is a country with high efficiency and Germany is a land of disciplines. A good mix of different European tastes.  

 

What is your most interesting learning experience so far?

The practical course of “Field trip” is the most interesting learning experience so far in my opinion. We spent about two weeks in Italy and France visiting hydraulic sites and structures and doing practical field investigation. It offered excellent chances to learn to use all different equipment to measure hydraulic parameters and properties of the catchment area, e.g. flow velocity, precipitation, geophysical investigation etc. Also, it was a nice experience to analyze the collected data as a team work.

 
Why should a new student choose this programme?

This Erasmus programme focuses on groundwater and global changes which is of growing importance nowadays and in the future. Two years of study in three different countries is an excellent experience to build up professional skills. Moreover, it is a good opportunity to meet classmates from all over the world, enjoy Europe and have a lot of fun!

 

Do you know what you will do after you graduate?

Yes. I have already started planning what I want to do after the programme. I would like to search for a job here in Europe in the field of hydrology and hydrogeology and possible phd positions for my professional development. As mentioned in my answer, I am thinking about searching a job or doing a phd in Europe. So if there are any vacancies you know or from colleagues, please get me informed. I really appreciate that. Dank u wel.

 
 
Tunde, Nigeria
What made you decide to study this particular program?

During my bachelors I developed a great interest in environmental management and of course water resource management in particular. I have always looked forward to acquire up to date and modern professional skills in the management of water resources. Thus, the Groundwater and Global Change programme and with special focus on climate change offers exactly what I wanted.

Could you briefly say something about groundwater issues in your country?

Nigeria being a developing country is vulnerable to climate change issues. At present the country has a population of 180 million and with a growth rate of 2.7%, population is expected to exceed 300 million in 2050. A high percentage depend on groundwater resources (domestic use, irrigation and industry) leading to gradual depletion of major aquifers. In the face of climate change, increasing population and improper management of the groundwater resource, the major aquifers might be completed depleted in few decades to come. At present, due to high abstraction from the aquifers in coastal area there is a problem of seawater intrusion.

What is your professional/educational background?

I have a Bachelors in Agricultural Engineering and worked in a food production company as Assistant Environmental Supervisor for few months before joining the programme.

How do you experience living and studying in three places in Europe?

This is one of the most interesting experience for me. I have been able to learn new things, new cultures, different lifestyles, new languages, taste different foods and meet people from the professional and non-professional circle. So far I have learnt a lot of thing from the three countries and now I friends all over the world.

What is your most interesting learning experience so far?

The field trip in France was great.  Out of class learning and on-field application of knowledge really helped in building confidence to deal with real world situation.

Why should a new student choose this programme?

The GroundwatCH programme gives student the opportunities to acquire needed and important skills in groundwater management both in theory and practical application. It helps to develop professional expertise required to excel in the field of hydrogeology.

Do you know what you will do after you graduate?

After my programme, I want to work professional in the field and apply the knowledge I have acquired in contributing to solution. Thereafter, I will pursue a PhD degree and also would like to have a NGO for WASH programmes in developing countries.

Wayangi Weerasekera, Sri Lanka
What made you decide to study this particular program?

After completing my bachelor’s degree, I searched for an international postgraduate opportunity. One of my friends introduced me to the Erasmus Mundus scholarship programme which grabbed my attention. I was much impressed by the GroundwatCH programme and felt very motivated to apply. The programme content i interesting where I was more curious on groundwater data collection, interpretation, modeling and assess the impacts of climate change. Also they have joined three esteemed universities from Portugal, Netherlands and Germany. I was sure that the experiences that I would gain with this programme would be precious. So, I applied for the programme and was lucky enough to be a part of the first GroundwatCH batch.        

Could you briefly say something about groundwater issues in your country? 

Currently Sri Lanka has groundwater related issues at a regional scale. Lot of research work is going on due to the uncontrolled usage of groundwater in agriculture, industrial sites, tourism industry and domestic use. They have caused severe impacts on groundwater resources, especially in the near future. Most of the people in Sri Lanka do not pay attention to these threats mainly because of their lack of knowledge and poverty. Also climate change and predicted sea level rise will influence the ground and freshwater resources in the country. Further, the increasing population will intense the threats. Moreover, natural disasters like tsunamis have already created major issues in the coastal aquifer systems. So, now the country needs a proper groundwater management system. 

What is your professional/educational background?

I obtained a B.Sc. Engineering (Hons) degree in Earth Resources Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. I graduated in 2014 and I worked as a graduate instructor for about one year. I have some background knowledge about groundwater from my bachelor programme. More importantly, my bachelor thesis was on demarcating groundwater potential zones using remote sensing and GIS technology. I have extended my research work and developed a methodology to assess the potential artificial recharge zones. My research work was published in two national conferences and one international journal.

How do you experience living and studying in three places in Europe?

I was born and bred in Sri Lanka and this was my first visit to Europe. I enjoyed every single day that I spent in Europe. Food, traditions, life styles, environment were so much different from the life I had. Also the educational systems were different in all the countries compared to Sri Lanka. Even living in Portugal, Netherlands and Germany gave me different experiences. In some cases we had the chance to share the accommodations with some international students. Those experiences were priceless and made me feel more confident.  

Most importantly, our GroundwatCH family has people from over ten different countries covering the world. We shared lot of different experiences that we have had in our own countries. We enjoyed learning from each other’s traditions, cultures and also diverse languages, food. We, as a family helped each other in living here far away from our homes. Living in different countries in Europe with some international students gave me the most precious experiences that I had in my entire life. 

 

What is your most interesting learning experience so far?

We had a practical module to gain hands-on experiences in the field associated with the second semester in UNESCO-IHE, The Delft. It was held for three weeks’ time in Italy and France. We were able to witness the water management systems in Venice, Italy. In France, we got the chance to use our knowledge in the field. We were camping in Southern France where we all got assigned our own catchments and a specific task. Those two weeks were hard as we had to start our day early in the morning and try to complete our daily tasks. Sometimes we had to climb mountains where we had to manage our own safety. It was an unforgettable experience in the master programme. Though we had some tough times we all enjoyed the time that we spent together.

Why should a new student choose this programme?

Usage of groundwater is one of the best possible solutions for the arising water demand in the world. This GroundwatCH master programme is specially design on addressing those problems which can be severely affected by the predicted climate change. The programme offers a solution for the uprising water demand. Also it considers about the impacts on groundwater resources due to the foreseen climate changes and the adaptation methods. The programme will be interesting for a student who is keen to study in the fields of the hydrogeology, hydrology and climatology areas. During the master programme you will have the opportunity to learn diverse software packages related to groundwater modeling. So, if you are searching for an opportunity to focus on groundwater and climate change impacts, this is a valuable programme that you should consider.

 

Do you know what you will do after you graduate?

After completing the GroundwatCH master, I would like to apply for a PhD opportunity mainly focusing on groundwater quality, groundwater security and sustainable management. I truly believe that the knowledge I gained through this master programme will be an immense help in finding a worthy PhD opportunity. Further, all my experiences during this period will make me more capable to achieve my targets. 

 
Guillermo Céspedes López, Colombia
 
What made you decide to study this particular program?

My attention during my bachelor studies and professional life so far has been focused in the area of the natural resources and how the pressure due to economic development can impact on them, mostly in a negative way. Then, in the beginning of my professional career I had the opportunity of working in projects related to the management of natural resources, and particularly in the area of water resources and groundwater, which increased my interest in such topics.

 

I consider that this master program provides training and tools to allow facing those challenges focused on the study of groundwater, how global change and how human pressure can impact on their availability and quality, and the different adaptation solutions. On the other hand, the three of the partners of the program are recognized institutions in the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology and natural sciences with a very good staff of experts and a lot of experience in these areas. All together with the opportunity of studying in three different countries makes the study of this program a unique life experience.

 

Could you briefly say something about groundwater issues in your country? 

Colombia is a country with a very good water resources availability, surface water is widely used to supply the demands. However, there are special issues: in some regions there is a strong use of groundwater for the agricultural and industrial sectors, which makes it an important resource for the economic development; on the other hand, in the coasts there is saltwater intrusion in the aquifers from the sea which affects the quality and availability of the groundwater.

 

In addition, the ENSO phenomenon brings periodically to the country warmer and cooler periods, which sometimes is translated to strong impacts on the territory with floods or droughts. When long dry periods come over, the rivers and streams decrease significantly their flows and the pressure goes mainly on the groundwater. A strong pressure and a lack in the groundwater management may lead to deterioration of rivers, decrease their ecological flows and affect ecosystems which makes important the joint use of the water resources and the study of the groundwater systems.

 

What is your professional/educational background?

I am an Agricultural Engineer, and as part of my professional background I worked in a research group in engineering of water resources and soils, in the Universidad del Valle, where I got my bachelor degree. More recently I was part of two projects being carried out by the CVC, which is corporation in charge of the management of the water resources in the Valle del Cauca, region where I come from: The first one was a project to develop a GIS system to collect, store, manage and query the geographical information of the region for different thematic related to the management of the natural resources; and the second project was the assessment of groundwater in extreme weather conditions in the region, with different activities such as instrumentation, field data collection, modelling and the monitoring and analysis of the relations between groundwater, rivers and wetlands.

 

How do you experience living and studying in three places in Europe?

Living in those three different countries is a unique experience, each one of them with many different aspects and things to share. As a life experience it is really nice to learn about the culture of the different countries, their people, see their different landscapes, and all of the things that the countries have to offer.

 

Regarding to the studies, all three of the partner institutions have different learning methodologies which strengthen different aspects in the training process, and all of them have this international student environment where it is very nice to meet different people from different places in the world, with whom you can share experiences, their culture and also the different kind of water-related problems that their countries have to deal with.

 

What is your most interesting learning experience so far?

I think it has been the whole lifetime experience itself, being in contact with people from so different countries, rebuilding constantly the idea of what you think the world is with their cultural differences, and of course learning some of the issues in the water resources management that I didn’t know before. Also, I would like to highlight the three weeks of field visits and fieldwork as a very interesting and valuable experience, I think there is always much more what you can learn when you deal in the field with what you learnt in the classrooms. 


Why should a new student choose this programme?

I consider that nowadays it is important to focus on a specialized topic studying a master program, in that way you can also learn a lot from the new experiences coming from the academia, and the researches in the different places in the world related to the topic you are focusing. I also believe that the groundwater is a very important resource to take into account and to study, in order to face the impacts of the climate change and the pressure of the world on the water resources. I consider this master offers training and tools to understand better the relation between groundwater, surface water, climate and global change, and to face the challenges previously mentioned.

 

Do you know what you will do after you graduate?

I would like to work in Colombia, at one of the institutions of the national government in charge of the management, study and monitoring of the natural or water resources, to help increasing the knowledge in our resources which will lead to more available information for a better management.

 
Guilherme Nogueira, Brazil
What made you decide to study this particular program?

During my bachelor degree I received a scholarship to make one year of exchange student in Europe, in Heidelberg, Germany to be more precise. I admired the life in Europe and always wanted to study here again. After go back to Brazil and graduate, I decided to follow the academic carrier to improve myself and gain more skills instead of search for a job already. Looking for different possibilities in my field of working (hydrogeology), in Brazil and abroad, I came with the opportunity of having my master’s degree fulltime in three different countries in Europe, with a scholarship and exactly in the area of my interest. The chance to live in three different countries, get in contact with researchers and students from different nationalities, and to be able to share experiences and learn together with them were points that made the decision easier!

I was already involved in this field of work for some years and I liked the chance of link this with global changes in order to be able to better analyse, understand and even propose mitigation measurements for future problems related to water resources. The importance of this science and this field always delighted me.


Could you briefly say something about groundwater issues in your country? 

In Brazil, great part of irrigation depends on groundwater, especially in the northeast of the country where not enough water is present in the surface. The projections of IPCC, for example, show the increase of extreme climatic events, like the months of droughts this region faces every year, in which more than 20 million people suffer with lack of water. Consequently, this place tends to depend even more on groundwater resources. I myself see the management of this problem as a particular challenge inside the country, also due to problems with bureaucracy and corruption in the system.

In the other hand, in great urban areas like São Paulo, groundwater importance has been increasing once the availability of surface water is not enough for the required demand. Particularly in the last five years, with a water crisis and water shortages in 2013-2014 (shortages in the supply even for weeks in some cities), a boom of new boreholes has happened in the state.  More than 10000 new boreholes (mainly private) for water supply have been completed in the year of 2014 just in the São Paulo state.

The country stills improving and integrating the national groundwater monitoring system, called as SIAGAS (http://siagasweb.cprm.gov.br/layout/visualizar_mapa.php). Unfortunately this is not a priority for the politicians and decision makers of the nation on this moment. Ttherefore, it is hard to put the topic for discussion or even obtain funds for projects in some cases. In addition, the weak interest of the subject turns the challenges to bigger problems. Water education, transparency, participation and concern from the population are also points that are inside such challenges.


What is your professional/educational background?

My background education is Geology. My graduation final work was in the scope of Hydrogeology, with a transient model of a portion of an aquifer using the software Feflow. During the last two years of my graduation, I was funded by a university scholarship, in which I was working in the laboratory of watershed studies (LEBAC, UNESP - Rio Claro) as a researcher and collaborator in different projects related to groundwater, contamination, remediation, aquifer regional and local characterization.

 

How do you experience living and studying in three places in Europe?

The opportunity of knowing different places, cultures, different people and ways of living are priceless.

It is a great opportunity to have a chance of studying in three different good universities, in three different countries, with so many different professionals full of experiences to share with us. The obtained experience complements our personalities in all the possible always, shaping us, and helping and teaching us how to deal and how to think in different possibilities and ways, ways which we could observe, learn and absorb from the different times and places we have been in the years of the program.

It is fascinating to see how countries and cultures could be so contrasting in such small distance. At the same time, it is super interesting to see how important is to work together and in agreement especially with neighbour nations in order to cooperate and improve education, society and economy for all. Except for minor issues and problems, we can observe this in Europe very well.


What is your most interesting learning experience so far?

The most interesting learning so far was how people think and deal with the same problem in different ways of approach and interpretation. And when we put our knowledges organized, we can see how important is to share and learn together.

In IHE we could get in contact with many foreigners students, because the institute has this very international environment, I think that there I had many nice “international” experiences and learnings.


Why should a new student choose this programme?

Apart of all above advantages of international experiences, the program covers the main points of hydrogeology, as well as the linkages of the science with our society and its importance, mitigations measurements facing climate change and its challenges.

Students and professionals who does not have had yet enough contact with the science and/or with fieldwork can join the program, once there is provided from basic knowledge up to experience in field, visiting in companies, water agencies, and drilling companies, for example.


Do you know what you will do after you graduate?

I still not sure what I want to do after the program. I would like to keep working in this area of the science.

I would like to have a job experience in a water agency or environmental consultancy before applying for a PhD, for example, here in Europe. At the same time, I like the idea of researching, staying in the academic environment.

 
 
Rachel Chang, USA
What made you decide to study this particular program?

The program is relevant to the future, it focuses on groundwater issues and global change. It is particularly relevant locally to my home in Southern California where aquifer recharge projects are employed to alleviate and mitigate the consequences of over-extraction.

Could you briefly say something about groundwater issues in your country?

Groundwater monitoring for contamination, groundwater levels, and sustainable utilization of resources are important not only to my country but wherever freshwater resources are available. The pressures of increased population pressures on groundwater resources requires understanding of the hydrological system dynamics as well as it's potential.

What is your professional/educational background?

I have professional experience as an Environmental Scientist working in water quality, production, treatment, and the development of analyses for the monitoring of biofouling. My educational experience is in Environmental Science, particularly with hazards and the human impact on the environment.

How do you experience living and studying in three places in Europe?

Living and studying in three places in Europe not only allows for opportunities to travel, but also exposure to different regional research focuses in groundwater and climate monitoring.

What is your most interesting learning experience so far?

My most interesting learning experience so far was the field excursion in France. Study participants were arranged in groups based upon their background, leading to a practical focusing on the application of knowledge gained as well as an exercise in group dynamics.

Why should a new student choose this programme?

A new student should select this program if they have a clear passion for their community. The knowledge and experience gained through this program have real, practical applications.

Do you know what you will do after you graduate?

Not definitively, but I am optimistic that the thesis experience will prove useful in this regard.