Groundwater quality and protection

The BGS have an internationally recognised track record in groundwater quality research related to natural baseline chemistry, and to groundwater and health.

We were one of the first research centres to recognise the threat of nitrate pollution and continue to work on this issue and diffuse pollution in general. We also undertake research related to point source pollution and, in particular, pollution from organic contaminants such as LNAPLs and DNAPLs.

Tackling topical issues

We are surveying the distribution of baseline methane concentration in UK groundwaters, providing a baseline against which future changes can be assessed. Other BGS methane studies have explored the sources and mechanisms of production of groundwater methane and investigated the extent to which emissions of methane from groundwater contribute to total atmospheric emissions.

BGS are working with the Environment Agency and colleagues in BRGM (France) to study emerging contaminants. Emerging contaminants are compounds which have relatively recently been discovered in groundwater in the UK and worldwide.

'Baseline' chemistry of groundwaters in British aquifers

Characterisation of the spatial and temporal variations in inorganic constituents in groundwaters from selected aquifers in England, Wales and Scotland.

Diffuse agricultural pollution

Diffuse pollution from agricultural sources is a significant water quality issue. BGS have undertaken extensive research with a particular focus on nitrate in groundwater. In addition BGS have investigated the potential impact of climate change on the fate and transport of diffuse pollutants.

Groundwater and health

BGS staff undertake research related to groundwater and health. Specific areas of interest include arsenic, uranium and fluoride in groundwaters in the UK and overseas. We have also undertaken assessments of the occurrence and mobility of Cryptosporidium in British groundwaters.


Contact Pauline Smedley for further information.