England and Wales: Maps of Groundwater Aquifers and Source Protection Zones

Apr 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Soil and Groundwater


Searchable maps showing groundwater aquifers and groundwater Source Protection Zones (SPZs) in England and Wales can be obtained from the UK Environment Agency’s website. The aquifer designation data are based on geological mapping provided by the British Geological Survey.   

The maps show two different types of aquifer designation:

  • Superficial (drift) aquifers consisting of permeable unconsolidated deposits
  • Bedrock aquifers consisting of solid permeable formations (e.g., sandstone, chalk, and limestone)

Within these classifications, aquifers are designated as being principal aquifers, secondary aquifers, or unproductive strata.

Groundwater Protection Zones

The aquifer maps also show SPZs for 2,000 groundwater sources, including wells, boreholes, and springs that supply public drinking water. Three main zones (inner, outer, and total catchment) are depicted. The Environment Agency uses the zones in conjunction with its Groundwater Protection Policy to set up pollution prevention measures in areas that are at a higher risk and to monitor the activities of potential nearby polluters.

Groundwater Use in England and Wales

According to the Environment Agency, groundwater accounts for approximately one-third of total potable water used in England and Wales. In southern England and Wales, up to 80 percent of drinking water is provided by groundwater.

About the Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an Assembly Sponsored Public Body responsible to the National Assembly for Wales.

Its principal objectives are to protect and improve the environment and to promote sustainable development. It plays a central role in delivering the environmental priorities of the central government and the Welsh Assembly Government through its functions and roles.

About the Author

Michael Bittner, CPEA, is an associate partner in the Boston, U.S.A. office of Environmental Resources Management and editor of the EHS Journal. He has more than 20 years of experience in the EHS field, including 17 years of EHS consulting experience and four years as the corporate environmental manager for a U.S. Department of Defense contractor. Mr. Bittner specializes in global EHS solutions including

  • Compliance and management systems auditing.
  • EHS management systems implementation and design.
  • Sustainability solutions.
  • Mergers and acquisitions support.

He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Auditing Roundtable.

Photograph: Underground by Irum Shahid, Islamabad, Pakistan / The Hague, Netherlands.

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