This project forms a fundamental element in catchment management. It makes sense to know where our water is coming from, particularly water for human consumption. The areas defined as source protection zones around public supply boreholes and springs are critical areas that help in:
Understanding our groundwater resources in terms of the source of the water, and the pathways between rain falling on the ground and the spring/borehole,
- Susceptibility to pollution,
- Sustainability (the link between recharge and long term abstraction/flow),
- Hydrochemistry and groundwater quality,
Establishing the link between land use activities and water quality.
The areas assist EPA and the Water Service Authorities with their duties (monitoring, assessment, enforcement obligations); focus strategies at a catchment and sub-catchment scale; in providing information and advice to other key stakeholders; direct and implement both receptor orientated and emission orientated legislation such as the Water Framework Directive, Groundwater Regulations, Drinking Water Regulations, and Good Agricultural Practices Regulations; defining Drinking Water Protection Areas; and preparing risk assessments for activities such as domestic wastewater treatment systems (septic tanks) in order to enable the Water Service Authorities implement legislation and promote good practice.
The defined zones and the water quality data are used together in the monitoring and classification of the ‘status’ of groundwater for Water Framework Directive and thereby indicating which programmes of measures should be implemented across those areas to either restore or maintain water quality.
The areas are zones that are used to protect our groundwater resources, ensuring their sustainability and maintaining good quality water that is important not only for drinking water but the provision of groundwater to our rivers and ecosystems, critical in maintaining and providing a healthy environment. These zones help to drive a ‘smarter’ implementation of environmental policy and also help to balance agricultural activities and businesses that seek to maximise productivity.