The kick-off meeting of the 2020 new Water and Land project on Tackling Illegal Groundwater Drilling and Abstraction (TIGDA) has been cancelled.
Groundwater is and remains a valuable resource for the environment and different human activities. Environmental and anthropogenic pressures on this resource include amongst others: climate change (drought, flooding, etc.), (over)abstraction and pollution (point source and diffuse). Water re-use, water buffering and infiltration are some of the possible measures to diminish our requirement for fresh groundwater as well as replenish its storage. Nonetheless groundwater drilling and abstraction will remain necessary for different purposes. Groundwater shortage is no longer an exclusive problem for arid or Mediterranean countries. Recent prolonged drought periods have repeatedly made clear that groundwater supplies have to be carefully managed (abstraction as well as recharge) in all member states.
As a tool for reaching a good quantitative and qualitative state of groundwater bodies, a prior authorisation for abstraction and impoundment should be in place in the member states (WFD). The directive does not include any specific requirements on how to successfully enforce these authorisations or other possible impacts they might have on groundwater quantity or quality. This project therefore aims specifically on groundwater drilling and abstractions, including open and closed loop geothermal systems.
As the different aquifers and aquitards in the member states are drilled (through) for these purposes it is useful for member states to know:
- Which specific legislation and requirements are in place for groundwater protection (drilling, instalment and exploitation).
- Which specific methods are in use for enforcement of this legislation (site visits, checklists, use of experts, best practices).
Proper regulation and enforcement of groundwater drilling and abstractions are important for reaching a good quantitative and qualitative status of groundwater bodies as they can have a direct impact on groundwater quantity and an indirect impact on groundwater quality. Optimal tackling of illegal groundwater drilling and abstraction is therefore an essential instrument. Important to note that by ‘illegal’ in this sense, non-permitted installations as well as permitted but non-compliant installations are meant (e.g. over-abstraction, faulty installation).