We recently read an article regarding well water (borehole) supplies declining across the world on the Guardian’s Environmental Section.

The world is seeing the collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a geographic region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline. Because of the failure of governments in the region to mesh population and water policies, each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed and less irrigation water with which to feed them.

It’s a very interesting article and shows that in both the developed and undeveloped nations across the world that groundwater management is not being exercised correctly to ensure that sustainable use of groundwater is carried out.

Global Groundwater Levels

Of course we fully understand the challenges of feeding a hungry world, but uncontrolled exploitation of groundwater will actually result in an exacerbation of the difficulties of feeding that hungry world in the long term.

Those within the world with the power to do something about this need to examine the issues closely so that correct education and regulation are put in place to stop, and where possible, readdress the declining groundwater caused by over exploitation that is discussed in the article.

Are we Getting Groundwater Management Right here in the UK?

Certainly here in the UK, as can be seen by the fact that the UK is not mentioned in this article, groundwater is not being actively over exploited.

In the UK groundwater management and its use is controlled and regulated by the Environment Agency in England and Wales and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland both being responsible for this via the abstraction licensing regime.

Any abstraction that is over 20m3/day requires an abstraction licence in England and Wales and 10m3/day in Scotland but what about the element that doesn’t fall into this regulation?

One of our Directors, Chris Dodds expressed his views on this in a recent interview with Water Well Journal when he was asked ‘What do you think has made the biggest impact in the water well drilling industry in the last 20 years? Is it a new innovation, technology, rule, something other? With Chris’s main concern that this system is being exploited:

As a result of the deregulation the groundwater industry was inundated with companies who were out to make a ‘fast buck’ with little care for the customer, the Environment or the regulator. These companies have taken the relaxation of the law into their own hands and taken full advantage of a scheme that was in place to save the regulator, customer and contractor additional paperwork in a (relatively speaking) water rich country.

Customers have had poor installations, the Environment has been impacted (aquifers have been mixed degrading overall water quality in groundwater units) and contractors and customers are drilling water wells and boreholes and just saying that the supply is for less than 20m3/day (4,400 gallons) when they are actually abstracting much more water than this.

Certainly, as is highlighted by the Guardians article, groundwater management is a very important issue that affects the entire world that needs an integrated approach to manage, on a country by country basis ensuring that it is sustainable as part of the Hydrological Cycle and not over exploited.

If you require assistance with the groundwater management regulatory regime feel free to contact us.

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