One of the key environmental objectives of the proposed EU Water Framework Directive is that Member States must prevent the deterioration of groundwater quality. A national groundwater protection scheme for Ireland has been published recently. This scheme shows certain broad similarities to the groundwater protection policy for England and Wales, incorporating the concepts of groundwater vulnerability, source protection zones and responses to potentially polluting activities. However, the Irish scheme is different in several important respects, reflecting the different hydrogeological conditions and pollution concerns in Ireland. Some of these hydrogeological conditions and pollution concerns are common to the other Celtic regions. A major feature of the irish scheme is the importance given to subsoil permeability in defining groundwater vulnerability. At present, the subsoil permeability is classified in qualitative terms as high, moderate or low. For the protection scheme to be defensible, it is essential to adopt a systematic and consistent approach for assigning subsoil units to these permeability categories. In mapping groundwater vulnerability, it is also useful to take account of secondary indicators such as groundwater recharge potential, natural and artificial drainage density and vegetation characteristics. Another important issue in Ireland is the protection of groundwater in karst areas, since these areas are especially vulnerable to contamination.
Figures & Tables
Groundwater in the Celtic Regions: Studies in Hard Rock and Quaternary Hydrogeology
This book covers a diverse range of hydrogeological environments that occur in the Celtic regions of Britain and Ireland. These include hard rock aquifers of Lower Palaeozoic and Precambrian age, generally dominated by fracture flow within a shallow zone of weathering; Carboniferous Limestone aquifers, often characterized by conduit flows in karstic systems; dual-porosity Permo-Triassic sandstone aquifers; and Quaternary deposits, many of which form shallow granular aquifers. The papers presented here address a number of current issues common to the Celtic regions, including: groundwater protection policies, groundwater management in karst aquifers, groundwater development in Quaternary aquifers, groundwater evaluation in data-scarce aquifers and groundwater supplies to small island communities.