PROTECTING IRELAND'S GROUNDWATER: Groundwater Protection and Ireland's National Mapping Programme

IGA LECTURE Wednesday, 2nd March, 2011

Speaker: Melissa Spillane (TOBIN consultants) 

VENUE: Room G01, UCD School of Geological Sciences, Belfield, Dublin 4.

TIME: 8.00pm , tea/coffee from 7.30pm


Ireland’s Groundwater Protection Scheme (DELHG/EPA/GSI, 1999) is ageneralized framework for describing the physical settings present in Ireland and serves a means of assisting land-use planners and water resource managers to protect groundwater and prevent pollution. It provides guidelines for the planning and licensing authorities in carrying out their functions, and a framework to assist decision-making on the location, nature and control of development and potentially polluting activities. The aim of the Groundwater Protection Scheme is to preserve the quality of groundwater, particularly for drinking purposes, for the benefit of present and future generations. The groundwater protection scheme comprises two components that are integrated together: i) A land surface zoning map called the groundwater protection zone map, which highlights groundwater sources, resources and vulnerability to contamination. ii) Groundwater protection responses for potentially polluting activities e.g. landfills, licensed landspreading of organic wastes and on-site wastewater treatment systems (single houses). The role of the GSI is in the production of the land surface zoning map, whereas decisions on groundwater protection responses are the responsibility of the statutory authorities. The current National Mapping Programme, funded by the National Development Plan and the Local Authorities is focussed primarily on the determination of a groundwater vulnerability map. The subsoil permeability and depth, and localities of point recharge are mapped and combined to provide a groundwater vulnerability assessment. This comprises of fieldwork and data analysis. The fieldwork consists of logging and recording of bedrock and subsoil exposures, sampling of subsoils, and drilling using the Geological Survey of Ireland’s drill rig. The data analysis and interpretation uses the field data and previously collected data and GSI, EPA and OSi spatial data sets. The main products are a depth to bedrock contour map, a subsoil permeability map, a geomorphic units map and a groundwater vulnerability map, accompanied by a descriptive report.

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