Niels Hartog appointed president of IAH-NL

‘International Association of Hydrogeologists offers a lot to members’

The Netherlands chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) has a new president. On 25 June, KWR hydrogeologist Niels Hartog was appointed to the post. His mission is to connect people around the theme of groundwater. In addition, his ambition is to strengthen the market presence of IAH-NL, the Dutch chapter of the worldwide network.

The International Association of Hydrogeologists was set up in 1956. It is a worldwide network of policy-makers, consultants, contractors and researchers active in the area of hydrogeology, the field of specialisation that deals with groundwater. IAH wants to increase the awareness of groundwater worldwide. Among its goals is the sharing of knowledge about the use and protection of groundwater and its sources. Establishing international connections among its members is also one of its main goals.

Cross-fertilisation between functions

The organisation has more than 4000 members all over the globe. Each country has its own national chapter, which is connected to the worldwide network. The Dutch chapter, IAH-NL, has been headed by Niels Hartog since 25 June. He is associated with KWR and Utrecht University. This combination of functions provides for a cross-fertilisation which benefits the groundwater field of specialisation. ‘KWR already has numerous international contacts,’ says Hartog, ‘which inevitably fortifies IAH-NL and contributes to its international profile.’

Hartog is enthusiastic about his new function: ‘It is my mission to connect everyone in the Netherlands who is involved with groundwater, and to share our expertise and experience internationally.’ Hartog carries out his mission in collaboration with a newly-appointed secretary: Ane Wiersma from Deltares. Together they’re ensuring the leadership’s ‘rejuvenation’.

Stronger name recognition for IAH

If you google IAH the search turns up Houston’s airport in the US or the Australian ice-hockey team. ‘It’s true, something has to be done about our name recognition,’ says Hartog. This is actually one of the first priorities of his presidency. ‘The Netherlands is a key player when it comes to water. There are huge water challenges all over the world and we have the expertise to help deal with them. I want to boost IAH’s involvement in this effort. I see building this connection as one of the main challenges ahead – but also as an opportunity. In the Netherlands IAH is still little known despite the importance of our objectives. It is in our interest to sharpen our profile as a way of attracting more professionals to IAH, organising more collaborations and attracting more sponsorship money. Financial support will make it possible to realise our objectives.’

The added value of IAH-NL

A stronger name recognition brings with it increased familiarity. ‘We’re going to work on building a quality Dutch IAH website and make the added value that IAH-NL offers clear,’ says Hartog. ‘One can expect this to increase the number of Dutch members, which will be a positive thing. Because IAH needs the knowledge and expertise of members, but it also has a lot to offer them through the opportunity to make international contacts and learn from each other.’

Collaboration with other chapters

The new president will be pursuing collaborations with other IAH chapters. He already visited the Belgian chapter in June, and Korea is on the programme in September. ‘Contact with other countries is a plus of such a worldwide network,’ he says. ‘You can benefit from a peek behind the scenes; you learn about other countries’ challenges and developments. For example, in Belgium I spoke of the recent insights gained from our research in the subsurface storage of thermal energy and its relation to groundwater. At the same time, I encountered a well organised and ambitious group of groundwater professionals, who are managing to connect effectively with the younger generation. I’m not saying that we need to organise things exactly as other countries do, but we in the Netherlands can learn a lot in this regard.’