News & Articles
Exceptionally low rainfall across southern and eastern parts of the UK in the preceding 24 months has culminated in Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, announcing that the region is in drought status. After three winter recharge seasons with below average replenishment groundwater levels are amongst the lowest on record, especially so in the south and east of England where there is greatest reliance on groundwater resources for public water supply.
Recognising the seriousness of the situation Caroline Spelman hosted a drought summit, attended by water companies, farmers and wildlife organisations, to agree ‘preventative measures’ to reduce the impact of the drought. Adjustments to agricultural procedures, better connectivity between water companies and the issuing of drought permits were discussed at the meeting.
The UK Groundwater Forum, in partnership with the NERC Water Security Knowledge Exchange Programme (WSKEP) is holding its annual conference on drought issues and will be followed by a WSKEP workshop on ‘Improving drought prediction, communication and impact assessment’. The conference and workshop will be held on 13-14th June at British Geological Survey, conference centre, Nottinghamshire. Registration for these events will open shortly - visit our web page (www.groundwateruk.org/Drought-how-resilient-are-we.aspx) for more information.
Read our article about groundwater drought in the UK www.groundwateruk.org/Groundwater-drought-in-the-UK.aspx
Do your bit and help save water www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/drought/31755.aspx
Read the latest hydrological summary for the UK www.ceh.ac.uk/news/news_archive/January-2012-UK-Hydrological-Summary_2012_12.html
The draft National Standards for sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are now available for consultation from the DEFRA website. The standards state how surface runoff should be managed in accordance with Schedule 3 of the Floods and Water Management Act 2010. It documents the standards to which SuDS must be designed and constructed in order to obtain approval from the Unitary Authority (SuDS approval body), who will adopt, operate and maintain the system. Of particular interest to groundwater, is the hierarchy for surface water discharge, which states that the priority destination for runoff is discharge to the ground. Soakaways, infiltration basins and permeable pavements will therefore be the priority mechanism for surface water discharge for new developments. Exceptions apply, for example, where site conditions are such that there is insufficient infiltration capacity, potential for groundwater flooding, or an unacceptable risk of ground instability, or a risk of pollution mobilisation to groundwater.
To view the consultation document visit www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2011/12/20/sustainable-drainage-systems-1112/
For more information about SuDS visit www.groundwateruk.org/Groundwater-issues-SUDS.aspx
Long-term water quality records highlight rising trends in nitrate concentrations in the River Thames. The data, which goes back 140 years, has been compiled as part of a project led by Bristol University to look at the effect of land use changes on water quality in the river. Changes to farming practices, such as the ‘Dig for victory’ campaign in 1939 and the Common Agricultural Policies of the 1960s-70s have contributed to the problem. Since much of the nitrate percolates into the ground and enters the groundwater system there is a delay of 30 years or more before the nitrate arrives in the river, say researchers at Bristol University. The project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, also indicates that nitrogen is accumulating within the Thames basin.
To read the full article please visit the BBC web site here www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16223536
To learn more about nitrate pollution in groundwater visit the British Geological Survey’s web site here www.bgs.ac.uk/research/groundwater/quality/diffuse_nitrate.html
The Environment Agency is introducing a new Groundwater Flood Warning Service in November 2011. This service will be available in England in those communities which have been affected by flooding from groundwater in the past and which already receive local information about groundwater flooding.
Following the groundwater floods of Winter 2000/01 the Environment Agency developed local warning arrangements for flooding from groundwater in locations which had experienced repeated occurrences of flooding from groundwater in the past. These are predominantly areas that lie in the chalk catchments of South East and South West England.
The Environment Agency has made improvements to ensure the groundwater flood warning service is consistent, robust, resilient and sits comfortably alongside the flood warning service they already provide for rivers and the sea.
From November Floodline Warnings Direct will be used as the primary method of disseminating messages about flooding from groundwater This new improved service means that:
• Flood Alerts will be issued when there is the possibility of flooding from groundwater.
• In some locations Flood Warnings will also be issued when flooding of properties is expected.
• Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD) will be the primary method for disseminating the Flood Alerts and Flood Warnings however this will be supported by local arrangements such as briefing notes, flood wardens and flood action groups.
• Information on flooding from groundwater will also be available on the environment agency website, in groundwater leaflets and materials, in the flood guidance statement and 3 day flood risk forecast and at Floodline.
For more information contact Leila Hutton at the Environment Agency (Leila.Hutton@environment-agency.gov.uk)
From the 3rd Oct a twelve week consultation period is being launched by the Environment Agency on revisions to GP3 Part 4 and the new Part 5. GP3 is the Environment Agency’s Groundwater Protection, Policy and Practice document which outlines how they will manage and protect groundwater resources. Part 4 summarises legislation relevant to groundwater while the new Part 5 includes more detailed technical documents.
The proposed changes to GP3 will be presented by the Environment Agency at a free consultation event on 25th October at The Geological Society, Burlington House, London.
For more information about the GP3 review and the consultation event please visit the Environment Agency web site
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