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Baseline groundwater chemistry in Scotland's aquifers

MacDonald, A.M.; O Dochartaigh, B.E.; Smedley, P.L.. 2017 Baseline groundwater chemistry in Scotland's aquifers. British Geological Survey, 77pp. (OR/17/030)

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Abstract/Summary

Scotland’s groundwater is a highly valuable resource. The volume of groundwater is greater than the water found in our rivers and lochs, but is hidden from sight beneath our feet. Groundwater underpins Scotland’s private drinking water supplies and provides reliable strategic public water supply to many rural towns; it also sustains the bottled water and whisky industries and is relied upon for irrigation by many farmers (DWQR, 2013; Ó Dochartaigh, 2015). Groundwater provides many important environmental functions, providing at least 30% of the flow in most Scottish rivers, and maintaining many precious ecosystems. In its natural state, groundwater is generally of excellent quality. However, the natural quality of groundwater in aquifers is continually being modified by human influence, through direct and indirect anthropogenic inputs and groundwater abstraction. A thorough knowledge of the quantity and quality of groundwater in our aquifers, and of the processes affecting groundwater, is therefore essential for the effective management of this valuable resource. Baseline Scotland project has improved the availability of information on, and general understanding of, the chemistry of Scotland’s groundwater. The primary aim of the project was to provide core hydrogeological data and interpretation to help in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. An overview of groundwater chemistry data for Scotland during the inception phase of the project (MacDonald and Ó Dochartaigh, 2005) highlighted the paucity of reliable data on the natural substances that occur in groundwater. Good quality data that do exist are available for only small areas– but the Water Framework Directive requires an understanding of background levels across a much broader area. The aims of Baseline Scotland were: 1. To characterise the ranges in natural background groundwater quality in the main aquifers in Scotland, by carrying out groundwater sampling surveys that as far as possible incorporate representative areas of each aquifer, allowing extrapolation of the interpreted results to the remaining parts of each aquifer. 2. To provide a scientific foundation to underpin Scottish, UK and European water quality guideline policy, notably the Water Framework Directive, with an emphasis on the protection and sustainable development of high quality groundwater. The data collection phase of Baseline Scotland ran from 2005 to 2011, during which time systematic surveys were undertaken across the different aquifers of Scotland, and several regional-specific reports produced. The work was funded by BGS with specific contributions from SEPA. With the new information generated by the project, Scotland is in a much better position to sustainably develop and manage its groundwater resources.

Item Type: Publication - Report (UNSPECIFIED)
ISBN: 9780852728697
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey, SEPA
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed but not externally peer-reviewed
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Hydrogeological data, Groundwater quality
Date made live: 30 Jan 2018 14:29 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/519084

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