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:
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
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
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.