A quote from this USGS publication:
In this report, we define ground-water sustainability as development and use of ground water in a manner that can be maintained for an indefinite time without causing unacceptable environmental, economic, or social consequences. The definition of “unacceptable consequences” is largely subjective and may involve a large number of criteria.
Priorities for groundwater management
- Sustainable long-term yields from aquifers
- Effective use of the large volume of water stored in aquifers
- Preservation of groundwater quality
- Preservation of the groundwater aquatic environment by prudent abstraction of groundwater
- Integration of groundwater and surface water into a comprehensive water and environmental management system