Further description:- United Kingdom  Groundwater protection 

Glossary Entry:- United Kingdom  Groundwater protection
Groundwater protection describes the management processes by which groundwater quality and resources 
are protected against pollution and over-exploitation.
Overview
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.
1. General Approach
The powers and duties of the Environment Agency for England and Wales, The Scottish Environmental 
Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service can be summarised as:
- Achieve Statutory Quality Objectives for groundwater which may be set by the Secretary of State;
- Control discharges to groundwater and land through the discharge consent process and / or authorisations
under the Groundwater Regulations; - Prevent pollution through regulations set by the Secretary of State; - Enforce against pollution events; and - take remedial action when pollution has occurred. In respect of groundwater yield and quantity these powers and duties are to: - Conserve wtare resources and ensure their proper use; - Manage groundwater so that it does not prevent the maintenance of acceptable flows in rivers;
- Control abstraction of groundwater through abstraction licensing; - Enforce against illegal abstraction; - Take action to redistribute or augment resources where necessary. The three organisations also seek to protect the quality of groundwater through the development
control process. Policies have been developed and published which seek to control or prohibit activities
which could have a detremental impact on groundwater quality and hence resources. These policies
are backed up by published groundwater vulnerability maps and groundwater source protection zones.
The classification of groundwater vulnerability is based upon: - The nature of soil cover overlying aquifers; - The presence and nature of Drift deposits; - The nature of the strata comprising the aquifer; - The depth to the water table (thickness of the unsaturated zone). Source Protection Zones are determined by: - The travel time of potential pollutant within the saturated zone to a potable groundwater supply;
- The source catchment area.
 
2. Policy and Regulation
2.1 Policy
The Environment Agency for England and Wales, The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and 
the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service have all published policies relating to the
protection of groundwater. These can be found at: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waterres/137
http://www.sepa.org.uk/pdf/policies/19.pdf http://www.ehsni.gov.uk/pubs/publications/Policy_and_Pract
 
2.2 Regulation
The Groundwater Directive (Protection of Groundwater Against Pollution Caused by Certain Dangerous 
Substances - 80/68/EEC) prevents pollution of groundwater by controlling discharges and disposals,
including accidental loss, of certain dangerous substances where they are not already covered by
existing legislation. The Groundwater Regulations 1998 complete the implementation of the Groundwater Directive into
UK legislation. The substances to be controlled fall into two lists. List 1 substances are the most toxic and must be prevented from entering groundwater. They include
pesticides, sheep dip, solvents, hydrocarbons, mercury, cadmium and cyanide. List 2 substances are less dangerous, but entry of these substances must be restricted to prevent
pollution. They include substances such as ammonia. It is an offence for anyone to cause or knowingly permit: the entry into surface waters or groundwater of solid waste matter, or of poisonous, noxious or
polluting matter, or the discharge of trade and sewage effluent into surface waters or groundwater without prior consent
from the Environmental Regulator. It is not an offence to discharge clean surface water runoff (rain runoff from roofs and yards) to
surface waters or groundwater. If there is any risk of runoff being contaminated (for example by oil
drips from cars or roofs contaminated by chimney emissions), then it is an offence to discharge the
water without a Discharge Consent. In England and Wales a Discharge Consent is required for all discharges of trade effluent into land
and all discharges of treated sewage into land of >2m3/day. In Scotland a Discharge Consent is required for all discharges of trade effluent into land and for
sewage discharges to land from dwellings serving more than 15 population equivalent. In some high
risk circumstances SEPA may also require a consent for discharges from dwellings of less than 15 population
equivalent. In Northern Ireland a Discharge Consent is required for all discharges to land.
 
3. Funding
Site Project Funding
Not applicable 
 
R&D funding
Soil Protection
Research Type: Applied

Topics: Brownfields Contaminated land, Contaminated land overview Contaminated land, Remediation options, Remediation options overview Groundwater protection, Groundwater protection overview Soil, Soil Overview

Submitted by: Maike Hauschild  Who does what?

Full Details |


Soil Biodiversity Programme
Research Type: Basic

Topics: Brownfields Contaminated land, Contaminated land overview Contaminated land, funding Soil, Soil Overview

Submitted by: Maike Hauschild  Who does what?

Full Details |


URGENT (Urban Regeneration and the Environment)
Research Type: Basic

Topics: Brownfields Contaminated land, Contaminated land overview Contaminated land, funding Groundwater protection, Groundwater protection overview Soil, Soil Overview

Submitted by: Maike Hauschild  Who does what?

Full Details |


'Infrastructure and Environment' programme and 'Engineering' programme
Research Type: Basic

Topics: Engineering, Infrastructure and Environment, Brownfields, Contaminated land, Groundwater protection, Funding, Brownfields Contaminated land, Contaminated land overview Contaminated land, funding Groundwater protection, Groundwater protection overview

Submitted by: Maike Hauschild  Who does what?

Full Details |


Bioremediation LINK Programme
Research Type: Applied, Basic

Topics: (1) To understand and exploit natural attenuation in groundwater and soil (demonstration, modelling, prediction, definition of operating window). (2) To improve engineered in-situ bioremediation, interfacing microbiology with engineering and hydrogeology; dealing with heterogeneity, improved process control and optimisation. (3) To translate the results of laboratory studies into the field (scale-up). (4) To position bioremediation within a risk management framework - bioavailability, risk-based end points and residue behaviour. (5) To develop the ability to monitor in-situ microbial processes. (6) To understand the constraints on in-situ microbial processes. (7) To integrate bioremediation with other technologies. (8) To quantify human health impacts of bioremediation and develop surrogate testing. (9) To address socio-economic issues- perception of bioremediation technologies and decision-support mechanisms.

Submitted by: Professor Paul Bardos  Who does what?

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Land Contamination
Research Type: Applied

Topics: site assessment for land contamination, decision support tools for risk management, remediation of contaminated soils, sediments, and groundwater, Brownfields Contaminated land, Contaminated land overview Contaminated land, funding Groundwater protection, Groundwater protection overview

Submitted by: Maike Hauschild  Who does what?

Full Details |


Defra Web Page on: Contaminated Land - funding
Research Type: Demonstration

Topics: There are several measures which support the clean up of contaminated land, and these are described on this web page

Submitted by: Professor Paul Bardos  Who does what?

Full Details |



Market Information
Not applicable 
 
4: Management tools / decision support and guidance

No further information available

5. Authors


 
    
6. Acknowledgements