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Energy, environment and sustainable development

Case Study

Environment & Climate

Groundwater management

A major theme running through many EC-funded projects is the management and protection of groundwater.



The over-exploitation of groundwater resources due to the increasing demand for water from agriculture, industry and for public supply has become a pan-European problem. In response to that problem, one research project has developed guidelines for the assessment, remediation and sustainable management of such resources in Europe. Meanwhile, another project has investigated the origins of palaeowaters (i.e. non-renewable groundwater), their present distribution, and former climatic and environmental conditions, and their potential as sources of good-quality drinking water unaffected by the industrial era. Another approach to the problem has been to develop and field-test water supplies based on desalinated brackish groundwater - instead of seawater - coupled with treated wastewater.

An increasing number of projects have addressed groundwater contamination and the rehabilitation of contaminated sites. These included the development of models to predict the risk of contamination from various sources of pollution linked to agriculture, and research into the rehabilitation of contaminated sites - with the involvement of industry.

A lot of effort is also being put into investigating various pathways of soil contaminants, the related risks, and the development of monitoring and rehabilitation techniques as well as decision-support systems, which will allow sites to be prioritised appropriately and the most appropriate techniques to be identified.

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