Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists: who we are and what we do?

According to its statute, the Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists (SAH) is an independent voluntary professional organization representing the professional interests of professional hydrogeologists in the Slovak Republic. According to the interest and possibilities of Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists, SAH also ensures issue of professional journal, newsletter, organizes professional conferences, seminars and scientific symposia, field trips and study visits, training of new methodologies, techniques and technologies, lectures and another publishing activities, ensuring also basic hydrogeological education for broader public. Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists cooperates and coordinates its activities with the Slovak National Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) and with similar professional associations in Slovakia and abroad.
In the field of hydrogeology, its methodology and required training, SAH closely collaborates with state authorities, in particular in the formulation of the rights and duties of Professional Competence Certificate holders (required by Slovak geological Act) in the field of hydrogeology. SAH is involved in the process of the assessment, approval, granting and withdrawal of Professional Competence Certificate in the field of hydrogeology for business and other activities. SAH also comments on the proposals of acts issued by public authorities as they relate to the interests of hydrogeology – as laws, decrees, regulations, technical standards etc., and in this respect SAH anticipates its initiative proposals.
Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists (as a Civil Association in its legal status) is a voluntary professional organization representing independent professional hydrogeologists and their professional interests in the Slovak Republic. Its membership is not compulsory, as is usual in professional chambers. In 2015, Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists (SAH) had 149 members. Fortunately, membership in the Association is not only updated by young new members, but also by former members who for various reasons in the past ended their membership. According to Slovak legislation, SAH can collect finances addressed from donors of 2% of paid income tax (if these mention SAH as the targeted subject).
Hydrogeology – the object of interest and activities of the SAH members – is a scientific branch that deals with groundwater, its origin, occurrence, movement, composition and its protection in the natural environment. Importance of hydrogeology in the modern society is underlined by the diversity of tasks that it addresses. Probably the most important task of hydrogeology is in ensuring and protecting of drinking water and forecasting the possible climate change impact on groundwater. Another important task is basic research and regional surveys, as hydrogeological surveys for mineral and thermal waters, curative waters, groundwater interaction with constructions especially in the process of their development, also hydrogeological surveys in building and monitoring of landfills, groundwater aspects in environmental impacts assessments, groundwater availability for use of groundwater-based heat pumps and the perhaps not everyone knows that hydrogeological assessments are also required by funeral services in cemetery designing.
Among the most important activities of the Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists, the most distinguished is clearly the publishing “Podzemná voda” journal, which is only in two years younger than “Hydrogeology Journal” – the official IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists) journal. It is regularly issued twice a year, in summer and winter period. In “Podzemná voda” journal, it is not exception to read papers published by authors from Poland or Czech Republic, as in these countries similar journal focused on hydrogeology and groundwater issues was not yet established. The importance of the “Podzemná voda” journal is not only that information about professional activities and results of hydrogeological work are presented to public, but also it provides young scientists space for publishing that is needed for their further scientific growth. Papers published in “Podzemná voda” are open to broad public after one year of their publication – the last two issues are locked and available for SAH members only.
Another no less important activity of SAH is organizing of hydrogeological conferences. These are top opportunities for meeting of specialists, exchange of ideas and building of good professional relations. SAH hydrogeological conferences are organized approximately in two-years’ time intervals, leaving also space for less official hydrogeological field seminars aimed for practical “in situ” meetings without a need to close the topics into proceedings and paper presentation formats. In 2014, the 17th Slovak Hydrogeological Conference was held in Piešťany spa (October 14 – 17), with the main topic of “New challenges in water protection”. Counting the order of these conferences is goung back to the first conference in the former Czechoslovak hydrogeological meetings that was held in 1971. In 2015, the third field hydrogeological seminar aimed for karst groundwater issues (“Protection of groundwater resources in karst areas”) is going to be organized in Krásnohorská Dlhá Lúka near the Krásnohorská jaskyňa Cave.
The members of the SAH are also involved in international projects, creation and updating of standards and legal regulations and SAH has its representative in Geological Council, an advisory body to the Minister of Environment. Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists is also represented in the Commission of the Ministry of Environment, which verifies the technical competence to carry out hydrogeological work, and in the Commission for the Groundwater Resources Assessment at the Ministry of Environment. SAH, as a virtual meeting place of specialists from various institutions, provides platform for elaboration of various studies for governmental organizations such as the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute or Water Research Institute.
Since 2007, Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists has established and regularly upgrades its website with useful information for its members, with lots of downloadable materials (www.sah.sk). SAH web site is located on servers of web hosting company Websupport Ltd. Domains of “sah-podzemnavoda.sk” and “sah.sk” also function under the administration of Websupport Ltd. The current website is designed by E107 CMS content management system, which is freely available under the terms of the GNU GPL license. This is a dynamic site with administration interface (created using PHP and MySQL). SAH website is constantly updated and supplemented with new information.
When organizing conferences, SAH is usually collaborating with the Department of Hydrogeology at Faculty of Natural Sciences / Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of Hydrogeology and Geothermal Energy at Štátny geologický ústav Dionýza Štúra (ŠGÚDŠ) – Geological Survey of Slovak Republic, hydrogeologists from Water Research Institute and Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, where the largest groups of professional hydrogeologists can be found. Slovak Association of Hydrogeologists has a well-established cooperation with the Slovak Association of Engineering Geology, the Czech Association of Hydrogeologists, the Institute of Geological Engineering of Technical University in Ostrava (Czech Republic), Department of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology of Silesian University in Sosnowiec (Poland). For better information on the activities of these associations mentioned, a regular exchange of Newsletters and news from the legislation was established.
The members of the SAH operate with the geological survey, in governmental offices, scientific institutions, universities, river basin authorities, water supply and private consultant companies. From the above it can be seen that the SAH and its members play a significant role in groundwater aspects of improving the environment, satisfying the basic needs for life and also in enhancing the professional growth.