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The Dumfries Basin aquifer supports groundwater abstraction for public supply, agriculture and industry. Abstraction is concentrated in the western part of the basin, where falling groundwater levels and deteriorating water quality both reflect the effects of intense pumping. There are two bedrock units: a predominantly breccia–coarse sandstone sequence in the west, interfingering with a predominantly sandstone sequence in the NE and east. The basin is bounded by weakly permeable Lower Palaeozoic rocks, and is largely concealed by variable superficial deposits. Surface water flows onto the basin from the surrounding catchment via the Nith and the Lochar Water and their respective tributaries. Direct rainfall recharge occurs via superficial sands and gravels, especially in the north, and discharge is predominantly to the rivers in the central area rather than the sea. A picture is developing of two main aquifer types within the basin: the high-transmissivity western sector underlain by a fracture-flow system with younger water and active recharge and a high nitrate content, compared with the east where groundwater residence times are longer and the storage capacity is higher.

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