Groundwater in Scotland has traditionally been undervalued as a resource as it provides only limited public water supply despite being important for many private, industrial and agricultural water supplies and for dependent aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) (WFD) requires a characterization report to be submitted t o the European Commission in March 2005 describing the characteristics of our groundwater, an analysis of human impact and an assessment of the risk of failing to meet the environmental objectives set out in the directive. This has provided a driver to both rapidly improve the information available and to develop tools to assess the impact of human activity on this resource. Risk assessment methodologies have been developed to be consistent and reproducible and are based on simple science and national datasets. They use the concepts of pressure, pathway susceptibility and receptor sensitivity. Where a body is identified as being ‘at risk’, further characterization work will be required, followed by targeted monitoring. Methodologies, data availability and risk assessments will be refined as the work progresses. It is likely that some bodies identified as being at risk of failing to meet the WFD environmental objectives in the initial screening exercise will be classified as good status as more reliable information becomes available.

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