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Always The Bridesmaid Overcoming the Challenges of Integrating Groundwater Issues into Land Use Plan


Groundwater is invariably 'out of sight' and remains 'out of mind'; Due to our lack of connecting it ... an outcrop of groundwater. 13. Groundwater and the WFD ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Always The Bridesmaid Overcoming the Challenges of Integrating Groundwater Issues into Land Use Plan

Always The Bridesmaid… Overcoming the
Challenges of Integrating Groundwater Issues into
Land Use Planning.
  • Bob Harris
  • Catchment Science Centre
  • University of Sheffield

  • Groundwater is invariably out of sight and
    remains out of mind
  • Due to our lack of connecting it with land use
    (planning) we have allowed groundwater to
  • WFD changes our focus on water resources
  • Groundwater can now be seen not only as a source
    of water supply but a major driver of surface
    water ecological status.

In the UK 50 of abstracted groundwaters now
require treatment before distribution
Cumulative volumes of water company supplied
groundwater affected by quality problems
requiring action for period 1975 2004.
From UKWIR/EA RD Project 2004
  • Groundwater is invariably out of sight and
    remains out of mind
  • Due to lack of connection with land use we have
    allowed groundwater to deteriorate
  • WFD changes our focus on water resources
  • Groundwater can now be seen not only as a source
    of water supply but a major driver of surface
    water ecological status.

Groundwater should be considered as part of the
WFD River Basin Planning process - 3 phases of
RBP so far
  • water and health/sanitisation provision (19th
    Century to 1980s)
  • pollution prevention and control (1970s to
  • sustainable development (2000 onwards)

Groundwater for drinking
  • Variable use of groundwater across Europe -
    geology, climate, practice, culture.
  • Traditional protection from point source
    pollution threats - burial grounds, septic tanks,
    waste disposal etc
  • Philosophy of stopping/reducing sources of
    pollution accepted.
  • From 1900-1960s Protection Policies introduced
    prohibition zones for various activities around
    wells and boreholes.

Groundwater for drinking
  • Diffuse pollution from modern pollutants
    -nutrients (NO3 PO4), pesticides, industrial
    solvents etc - not so well addressed
  • Major sources - industrialisation of agriculture
    widespread manufacturing
  • In UK philosophy of protecting receptors was
    adopted (by default) - i.e. treat at the
    wellhead/before tap
  • Now problems in how to deal with diffuse
    pollution and achieve WFD goals. Nutrients built
    up in the soil/groundwater system.

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Predicted nitrate concentrations in groundwater
for 2100
Groundwater for the Environment
  • Most of the worlds fresh waters resources are
    contained in groundwater
  • Aquifers buffer variations in surface flow
  • Groundwater sustains (and sometimes drives)
    river, lake and wetland ecosystems
  • Interactions with surface water have to be
    understood better in the context of achieving the
    Water Framework Directive (WFD) goals.

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A river is simply an outcrop of groundwater
Groundwater and the WFD
  • Separate Groundwater Directive deals with
    traditional groundwater issues
  • The WFD itself is where the interaction issues
    must be addressed
  • Holistic approach to understanding the issues is
    required or else the measures (management
    solutions) may not work
  • e.g. issues surrounding source appointment with
    respect to diffuse pollution - do we know where
    the majority of the problem arises and the major
    pathway(s) by which it reaches the surface water

Multiple pressures on a small catchment - the
River Tyne
river regulation
paper mills
urban drainage
paper mills
chemical industry
coal mines
sheep dip
lead mines
acid rain
Agricultural Diffuse Pollution
atmospheric deposition
gaseous emissions
animal wastes
surface flow
soil mineralisation
retention cycling export
downstream transport transformation
aquatic ecosystem
shallow flow/drain flow
retention cycling transformation export
retention cycling export
Understanding pollutant flux transport...and
addressing solutions is a 4-dimensional
Where does the water come from? - the complexity
of highly attenuated travel times in permeable
Groundwater and the WFD
  • Groundwater has to be placed into the context of
    the River Basin Planning process and considered
    holistically - along with other environmental
    compartments (soil, surface water and their
    associated ecology - and social and economic
  • Little sign (in UK at least) that this is being
    achieved yet still a compartmentalised approach
    in 1st round of River Basin Planning.

The costs of doing nothing are large
  • total external environmental costs of agriculture
    in the UK from diffuse pollution from chemicals
    (and eroded soil) have been estimated as 2.3
    billion in 1996 prices (Pretty et al, 2002).
  • The approximate annual costs of treating
    drinking water
  • pesticides 120 million phosphate soil 55
    million nitrate 16 million micro-organisms 23
  • But we need better ways of evaluating the
    benefits - not just in terms of costs to drinking
    water provision.

Valuing Groundwater
  • Concept of valuing the ecosystem goods and
    services provided is promising but no-one has
    worked out how to do this yet!
  • Useful if we can because it can be applied
    holistically across river basin/catchment to all
    environmental compartments
  • A potential way to link to socio-economic
    planning issues
  • Has to be placed within a new philosophical
    approach that links to the WFD.

The challenges in the UK
  • Water and river ecosystems have little
    identifiable value in UK society
  • We have lost the connectivity of people to their
    (environmental) surroundings - who knows where
    their catchment is and how they relate to or
    influence it?
  • Lots of river reach/field scale activity locally,
    but we work a top-down/national system there is
    no co-ordination nor any buy-in to develop a
    more innovative/holistic approach
  • Our river basins districts do not lend themselves
    to large scale joined-up planning -
    geographically and institutionally
  • Science/research is not involved.

So what do we do?
  • The River Basin Planning process is an
    opportunity, but not yet being grasped through a
    lack of vision
  • Currently seen a means to an ends -
    implementation of RBP Round 1 with least
    cost/disruption - best endeavours
  • Were at the wrong scale. It needs a bottom-up
    involvement connected to top-down
  • To reap any benefits we need to rethink the
    consequences of WFD implementation…. not in terms
    of a job to do, but as a new start a new and
    more efficient approach to land use and resource

Or we wont achieve Good Ecological Status by
2027… let alone 2015
A new concept - Integrated Catchment Management
  • Integrated Catchment Management is a process that
    recognises the catchment as the appropriate
    organising unit for understanding and managing
    ecosystem processes…
  • - in a context that includes social, economic
    and political considerations, and
  • - guides communities towards an agreed vision
    of sustainable land and water resource management
    for their catchment

Motueka River catchment, New Zealand
ICM as a Way of Thinking Linking
after Bowden 1999
ICM as a Spatial-Temporal Link
Acknowledgements Paul Quinn, Unv of Newcastle
Benefits of ICM
  • More holistic appreciation of land.
  • Integration of social and economic needs with
    natural ecosystems and the long term use of
    natural resources.
  • Clearer identification of roles and
    responsibilities for implementation.
  • Development of structures and mechanisms for
    co-ordination and cooperation.
  • Development of social commitment and cohesion.
  • Focus for attracting technical and financial
    resources allowing better utilization of local
  • Provides a forum for local interests and can
    result in early identification of potential
  • Provides a forum for feedback to Government.
  • Healthier catchments healthy environment.
  • More robust communities

Department of Primary Industries, Victoria,
So far we have tried to…
  • understand groundwater as a resource
  • largely focusing on groundwater and the
    underground environment
  • protect its use for drinking from adverse affects
    largely by limiting/controlling the sources
  • Increasingly relying on modeling to overcome the
    uncertainties of heterogeneity and caused by an
    inherent lack of data

In Future
  • We have to balance resource use and the needs of
    whatever ecosystem societies determine they
    should have - in the face of climate/global
  • Can only succeed in managing this successfully if
  • have a systemic understanding of the
    biogeochemical processes - both above and below
    ground (and also understand societies needs!)
  • and manage the overall system as a whole

But we need…
  • Groundwater recognised by others/other
    disciplines as important/an important influence
  • e.g. the fourth dimension
  • More/better understanding cheaper ways of
    getting data
  • Science to really inform policy-making
  • better engagement of science and those who
    develop policies and/or manage - or at least
    understanding of the interactions.

…and a New Breed of Catchment Scientists is
  • to face the challenges of
  • Scaling up - micro to macro
  • Working conceptually in 4-dimensions - the time
    element in pollutant flux transport
  • Understanding the linkages between environmental
    compartments - which ones are driving ecosystem
  • Linking Natural Sciences with Socio-Economics -
    language and culture barriers
  • Translating to/from the users, the publics