Groundwater protection
Groundwater protection describes the management processes 
by which groundwater quality and resources are protected
against pollution and over-exploitation.
Groundwater, which forms part of the natural water cycle, 
is present within underground strata (aquifers); out of
site and, unfortunately, all too often out of mind. Groundwaters
have a substantial strategic significance in public water
supply, the volume and quality of which must be preserved
by proper management. This is a difficult task, in many parts
of Europe groundwater is present everywhere beneath our
feet, at risk from human activity. Groundwater is at risk
from point (e.g. waste disposal) and diffuse (e.g. application
of agrochemicals) sources of pollution which accumulate
over many years. These may be virtually impossible to clean
up, regardless of cost, even when the source of the pollution
is removed. The protection of groundwater and yield is therefore
of paramount concern. Groundwater is not only protected
to maintain water supplies from aquifers. It naturally
feeds surface waters through springs and by base flows to
rivers. Its presence is often important in supporting wetlands
and their ecosystems.
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