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Natural baseline quality in european aquifers: a basis for aquifer management

Objective

Problems to be solved
There is currently no standard to assess the natural baseline quality of groundwater.
This is required
a) as a basis for defining pollution and
b) because existing limits are breached by entirely natural processes. The present-day baseline inorganic and organic geochemistry will be investigated using selected reference aquifers as well as historical water quality trends in these aquifers. State-of-the-art chemical, isotopic and radiometric tracer techniques and geochemical modelling will be used to define timescales of the natural geochemical processes. The results will be used as a scientific basis for underpinning the emerging Water Framework Directive and for making recommendations for monitoring natural aquifer systems. This will be achieved by working closely with an advisory group drawn from regulatory bodies in the consortium. The results will be presented through scientific channels, for use by policy makers and legislators.
Scientific objectives and approach
The objective of the BASELINE project is to establish criteria for defining natural water quality baselines and develop a standardised Europe-wide approach for use in the emerging Water Framework Directive. Such a standard, based on geochemical principles, is needed to be able to assess scientifically the natural variations in groundwater quality since these alone may breach existing health limits. These criteria are also needed as a reference to assess quantitatively whether anthropogenic pollution is taking place. The project will also focus on timescales influencing the natural processes and the rates at which these are occurring and appropriate dating tools (including radioisotopes and CFC's) will be used. The extent to which pristine waters are being depleted by contaminated waters moving into the aquifer will also be assessed. As well as giving the scientific framework, this project will provide a forum for discussion with policy makers and end users, including the utilities and general public. The work will be conducted in a number of representative aquifer cross sections in both carbonate and non-carbonate terrain in groundwater catchments in several European countries (Estonia, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, France, UK, Spain and Portugal).
Expected impacts
The expected impacts will relate both to advances in science as well as firm policy recommendations and material for end-users. This will include recommendations to EU (EEA) on how the baseline concept can help to underpin policy decisions relating to water quality including monitoring practice at European level. The improved understanding of the natural properties of groundwater, its quality, residence times and distribution will have an impact on decisions relating to the sustainable uses of water in Europe as well as on the role of groundwater in the environment in general.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL
Address
Crowmarsh Gifford, Maclean Building
OX10 8BB Wallingford
United Kingdom

Participants (15)

AMMA SRO
Czechia
Address
Bozeny Nemcove 500/6
460 01 Liberec
AQUATEST SA
Czechia
Address
Kaplirova 168
500 03 Hradec Kralove
CZECH GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Czechia
Address
6,Geologicka 6
152 00 Praha 5
DIAMO, STATNI PODNIK
Czechia
Address
Machova 201
47 127 Straz Pod Ralskem
GENT UNIVERSITY
Belgium
Address
Krijgslaan 281 S 8
9000 Gent
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF DENMARK AND GREENLAND
Denmark
Address
Oester Voldgade 10
2400 Koepenhagen
INSTITUTO TECNOLOGICO GEOMINERO DE ESPANA
Spain
Address
23,Calle Ríos Rosas 23
28003 Madrid
MALTA RESOURCES AUTHORITY
Malta
Address
Millenia, Aldo Moro Road
LQA 06 Marsa
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF METEOROLOGY AND HYDROLOGY - BULGARIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Bulgaria
Address
Tzarigradsko Chaussee 66
1784 Sofia
TALLINN TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY
Estonia
Address
Estonia Blvd 7
0026 Tallinn
UNIVERSITAT POLITECNICA DE CATALUNYA
Spain
Address
Calle Jordi Girona 31
000 Barcelona
UNIVERSITY OF AVEIRO
Portugal
Address
Campus Universit.santiago
3800 Aveiro/eixo
UNIVERSITY OF BERNE
Switzerland
Address
5,Sidlerstrasse 5
3012 Bern
UNIVERSITY OF MINNING AND METALLURGY
Poland
Address
Al. Mickiewska 30
30-059 Krakow
UNIVERSITÉ D'AVIGNON
France
Address
Louis Pasteur 33
84000 Avignon