Abstract

The Water4All project funded by the EU InterregIIIB programme aimed to demonstrate groundwater protection in the context of spatial planning and the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. Through a series of workshops, the four partner countries (Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK) developed a handbook containing an approach for risk-based land and water management to reduce diffuse pollution of groundwater from agricultural sources. Best practice guidelines were catalogued as a matrix of compensated and non-compensated ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ measures and were supported by illustrative case studies. The Water4All project also showed that spatially targeted measures can have wider benefits as part of a ‘whole landscape’ approach to planning and management. As an example, this paper explores a set of theoretical land-use scenarios, developed in consultation with stakeholders, which could potentially decrease nitrate concentrations in the regionally important Lincolnshire Limestone aquifer in eastern England. The results of a combined export coefficient and numerical groundwater modelling approach showed that a decrease in groundwater nitrate concentrations can be achieved over several decades with the implementation of a groundwater protection zone in which there is a significant element of land conversion from arable to woodland and grass. Hence, a long-term commitment to land management is required if the alternative and expensive end-of-pipe water treatment is to be avoided.

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