Papers published in QJEGH illustrate advances in the monitoring and measurement of groundwater systems over the last 50 years. The emphasis of QJEGH over the years has tended to be towards practice in hydrogeology in the UK, rather than theory, and therefore we refer also to some seminal work published elsewhere. The range of measurements and monitoring reviewed includes from laboratory to regional scale, physical measurement of groundwater flow and transport within groundwater, geophysical, chemical and thermal properties, and applies both to resources and pollution. Several themes can be recognized: groundwater resource development (especially in the early days), groundwater quality protection, initially focused on landfill but now including industrial and diffuse pollution, groundwater management integrated into wider environmental management since the European Water Framework Directive in 2000, and latterly novel uses of groundwater, in part driven by a desire for ‘clean’ energy. We conclude by looking at future drivers and technologies to consider how the practice of monitoring and measurement of groundwater systems may evolve in coming years and some of the challenges that we will need to overcome.