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In the early years of the Geological Survey, staff built up a considerable understanding of the movement of groundwater, and water supply memoirs were published from 1899. During World War I, one of the tasks of the Survey was to advise on the provision of water supplies. However, this emphasis did not continue when war ended, and it was not until the 1930s that interest in groundwater began to increase. An Inland Water Survey Committee was formed and the groundwater component of its work was entrusted to the Survey. A modest Water Unit was set up in 1937, staffed by members of Field Units on rotation, but limited progress was made. At the outbreak of World War II, attitudes changed and manpower was diverted to the systematic collection of groundwater data, published in a series of Wartime Pamphlets. At the end of the war, the Water Acts imposed significant obligations on the Survey and over the next five years the systematic collection and analysis of information became a professional operation. The Unit became a Department with its own permanent staff. The war acted as a catalyst highlighting problems and initiating action to the benefit of the water industry.

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