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Work in progress and drafts for the ongoing revision of the guidelines

Protecting groundwater for health: managing the quality of drinking-water sources

Comments on the draft would be welcome and should be submitted by e-mail before 20 February 2005.

Submit your comments [pdf 24kb]

Structure of the book

This book is a tool for intersectoral development of strategies to protect groundwater for health by managing the quality of drinking-water sources. For this purpose it provides different points of entry. As illustrated in Figure 1, the book consists of five sections.

Section I covers the natural science background needed to understand which pathogens and chemicals are relevant to human health, how they are transported in the sub-surface and how they may be reduced, removed or retarded (Chapters 3 and 4). The criteria for inclusion of agents in this overview are their relevance to human health (consequently, agents primarily of environmental relevance such as phosphate are not included), and their relevance in groundwater. Further the concept of groundwater recharge areas or catchments is introduced in Chapter 2, and basic hydrological and hydrogeological background information is provided. The section is concluded by Chapter 5 which introduces socio-economic and institutional considerations relevant to developing the protection of groundwater resources for drinking-water supplies.

Section II provides guidance for compiling information needed to characterise the drinkingwater catchment area in order to assess health hazards potentially reaching groundwater. This begins with assessing the socio-economic and institutional setting, which may influence groundwater quality through factors such as population density, settlement structure and economic status (Chapter 7). An understanding of the socio-economic setting and in particular of the institutional capacity is a necessary basis for choosing and implementing feasible management actions. Section II also outlines the range of information required for understanding the hydrogeological conditions determining the likelihood of pollutants reaching aquifers (Chapter 8). Chapters 9-13 address the range of human activities potentially releasing pollutants to the underground, i.e. agriculture, sanitation practices, industry, mining, military sites, waste disposal and traffic. These chapters end with checklists highlighting the type of information to compile about the setting and the human activities in it.

Section III provides conceptional guidance on prioritising both hazards and management responses. Chapter 14 describes how information on the hydrogeological conditions, particularly on aquifer vulnerability, can be related to human activities in the drinking-water catchment area in order to assess the potential for pollutants emitted from these activities to reach the aquifer. Chapter 15 discusses how to prioritise pollutants according to their public health burden as well as to their likelihood of causing long-term health hazards by accumulating in the aquifer. It also discusses the need to consider the socio-economic context in choosing feasible options from the range of technically appropriate management responses for protection, control or remediation.

Section IV provides an overview of the potential management actions that may be taken to protect drinking-water sources. These begin with their integration into a comprehensive Water Safety Plan that covers all supply steps from catchment to consumer (Chapter 16). Two chapters specifically cover protection of the drinking-water source – Chapter 17 on the scale of designating and managing groundwater protection zones in the catchment and Chapter 18 on the scale of protecting wellheads. Lastly, Chapter 19 gives guidance for managing the quantity of groundwater abstraction in order to avoid impacts upon quality and thus on human health.

Section V provides an overview of measures to prevent pollution from human activities in the catchment, beginning with the overarching issues of policy, land-use planning and implementation for protecting groundwater (Chapter 20). Chapters 21-25 follow with overviews of the specific management approaches that help avoid groundwater pollution from the range of human activities in the catchment, i.e. agriculture, sanitation practices, industry, mining, military sites, waste disposal and traffic.

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Table of contents [pdf 93kb]
Foreword [pdf 324kb]
1. Groundwater and public health [pdf 175kb]

Section 1: Scientific background information

2. Groundwater occurrence and hydrogeological environments [pdf 1.04Mb]
3. Pathogens: Health relevance, transport and attenuation [pdf 318kb]
4. Chemicals: Health relevance, transport and attenuation [pdf 803kb]

Section 2: Information needs for characterization of the recharge area

5. Socio-economic, institutional and legal aspects in groundwater assessment and protection [pdf 175kb]
6. Collecting information for characterising the catchment and assessing pollution potential [pdf 345kb]
7. Socio-economic, institutional and legal aspects: Information needs [pdf 211kb]
8 Assessment of aquifer pollution vulnerability and susceptibility to the impacts of abstraction: Information needs [pdf 2.55Mb]
9. Agriculture: Information needs [pdf 544kb]
10. Human excreta and sanitation: Information needs [pdf 1.30Mb]
11. Industry, mining and military sites: Information needs [pdf 397kb]
12. Waste disposal and landfill: Information needs [pdf 351kb]
13. Traffic and transport: Information needs [pdf 425kb]

Section 3: Catchment specific situation analysis

14. Assessment of groundwater pollution potential [pdf 1.22Mb]
15. Establishing groundwater management priorities [pdf 363kb]

Section 4: Approaches in groundwater management

16. Water Safety Plans: Risk management approaches for the delivery of safe drinking water from groundwater sources [pdf 455kb]
17. Groundwater protection zones [pdf 406kb]
18.Wellhead protection and sanitary completion [pdf 316kb]
19. Hydrological management [pdf 167kb]
20. Policy and legal systems to protect groundwater [pdf 402kb]
21. Agriculture: Control and protection [pdf 251kb]
22. Human excreta and sanitation: Control and protection [pdf 671kb]
23. Industrial, mining and military sites: Control and protection [pdf 339kb]
24. Waste disposal and landfill: Control and protection [pdf 306kb]
25. Traffic and transport: Control and protection [pdf 175kb]

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