Innovative approaches to save groundwater are essential

Groundwater is tested.
Pollution of groundwater is a serious problem in Europe. Photo: Water News Europe.

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Climate change has caused the rapid depletion of the groundwater level is concluded in the Europe Water Pump Market Report 2021-2030. Groundwater plays an essential role in the hydrological cycle and acts as a buffer during dry periods. Therefore innovative concepts in groundwater management is a growing need to manage the resource better for sustaining livelihoods, is advised by GeoERA, an organisation specialized in groundwater.

The European Commission Environment stated in a report on the establishment of groundwater threshold values about 75% of European Union residents depend on groundwater for their water supply. Therefore, it has become increasingly obvious that it should not only be viewed as a water supply reservoir, but should also be protected for its environmental value and protection planning must be enforced. For example the Spanish minister for ecological transition Teresa Ribera, is under pressure to conform to European standards on water quality and quantity. She said: “In this context, water plans can’t continue to support the sort of practices that have led to the overexploitation of aquifers, the contamination of groundwater and the deterioration of our rivers.”

Framework and EU policies

With an increasing pressure on groundwater, the EU regulatory framework for groundwater started life at the end of the 1970s with the adoption of the Directive on the protection of groundwater against pollution.  According to Article 3.5 of the new Groundwater Directive groundwater quality standards (called threshold values) were established by Member States by the end of 2008. This Directive provides a groundwater protection framework that requires prevention of the (direct or indirect) introduction of high priority pollutants into groundwater and limiting the introduction of other pollutants. All Member States have to comply to these rules. The concept of groundwater protection is now fully integrated into the basic measures of the Water Framework Directive.

Innovative approaches

According to GeoERA, also innovative methodologies will be required to tackle the diversity of hydrogeological settings and the range of scales – regional to pan-European. Innovative concepts in groundwater management in the EU region are developing fast due to the growing need to manage the resource better. In order to utilise this innovative capacity, it is important to share good experiences and to have a well trained workforce and institutions that can capitalise on the new thinking.

When managing a scarce resource such as groundwater there is a large variation of issues that needs to be considered, and new innovative approaches and techniques should be implemented.  

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