Groundwater protection UK
Groundwater protection describes the management processes 
by which groundwater quality and resources are protected
against pollution and over-exploitation.
Groundwater is a key element of the water cycle and is the 
UK’s largest available resource of fresh water. In the UK
as a whole, groundwater supplies around one third of our
drinking water.

In rural areas groundwater may form the only source of
supply to isolated properties. Groundwater also provides
a large proportion of the water in our rivers and sustains
flows in dry weather. This base-flow is vital to maintain
river water quality and the dependent flora and fauna, but
if groundwater is polluted it can threaten river ecosystems.

River water can also flow into the ground for example through
swallow holes and become groundwater. If the river water
is poor quality this can cause groundwater pollution, possibly
impacting on groundwater abstractions at distance from
the river. This clearly demonstrates the need for integrated
management of surface water and groundwater.
Further information
Technical summary
Policy and regulatory information

Other country information
European Union

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