Groundwater bodies. Do you know what it is?

Jednolite części wód podziemnych

Taking action to protect the environment and water resources, as a result of growing environmental awareness and increased responsibility for our surroundings, has become a priority. A key moment in the context of water resources management was the entry into force of the Water Framework Directive on October 22, 2000. Poland undertook to implement its assumptions through appropriate legislation, and this was done through the Water Law.

Groundwater bodies – Water Framework Directive

The overarching goal of the Water Framework Directive is to take care of water resources, aimed primarily at the needs of future generations. The document introduced a new system for managing, assessing, protecting and improving water quality throughout the European Union. Particular attention was paid to groundwater, which is an extremely valuable resource that serves as a source of drinking water and an important reserve of water resources. In line with the directive, an important element of the new water policy has become the division of groundwater into smaller parts – groundwater bodies, abbreviated as jcwpd. They are intended to promote effective protection of groundwater, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Division of Poland into groundwater bodies

Groundwater bodies in Poland began to be delineated in 2004. At that time, taking into account primarily hydrogeological criteria, 161 jcwpd were established. In subsequent years, boundary revisions were carried out, implementing new criteria. As a result of this work, the division includes 174 groundwater bodies.

The current division of the country into water bodies has been officially published in Poland’s river basin management plans, effective 2022-2027, by the Minister of Infrastructure and is available in the Journal of Laws. The division into groundwater bodies can be viewed, among other things. On the map portal of the Polish Waters (Hydroportal) or on the website of the Central Office of Geodesy and Cartography (GUGiK).

Environmental objectives vs. groundwater bodies

A key tenet of the Water Framework Directive is that all groundwater bodies should achieve their environmental objectives. Environmental objectives are understood here as:

  • Preventing or reducing the introduction of pollutants into groundwater;
  • Preventing deterioration and improving their condition;
  • Protecting groundwater and taking corrective measures, as well as ensuring the balance between abstraction and recharge of these waters to achieve their good condition.

In order for groundwater bodies to achieve their environmental goals, specific measures are needed that are aimed at eliminating pollution, mainly resulting from human activities. Implementation of environmental goals is based on river basin management plans. The main environmental goal for groundwater is to maintain or achieve good status. This state is defined as one in which both the quantity of groundwater and its quality are rated as “good.” The overall status of a water body is determined by both quantitative and chemical (qualitative) assessments, with the final assessment being the result of the worse component scores. In practice, this means that for groundwater bodies to be in good condition, both the quantity of groundwater and its quality must meet the relevant criteria and standards.

Groundwater bodies – chemical and quantitative status

Information on the status of groundwater is applicable to the processes of planning and management of water resources, as well as in assessing the achievement of environmental goals. Poland’s groundwater bodies were assessed in 2020, and the results are satisfactory. According to the report, as much as 91.61% of the entire country’s area is characterized by good groundwater status. There are 151 groundwater bodies. However, 21 groundwater bodies have reached poor status, which is a challenge to work on. Detailed results show that 163 groundwater bodies have good chemical status, and 9 have poor chemical status. The number of jcwpd with good quantitative status is 157, and with poor status is 15.

Corrective actions in groundwater bodies

The results of the assessment of the status of water bodies, combined with a number of other analyses under the directive, form the foundation of the corrective measures to be taken. They focus on reducing pollution and ultimately achieving environmental goals. Most often, these are based on the principles of sustainable development of areas and use of water resources based on long-term plans and concepts. Measures are being taken to improve the purity of groundwater. Ultimately, they are intended to eliminate or reduce the flow of hazardous compounds produced by economic human activities into groundwater.

As a direct result of these measures, water conservation is being strengthened, which is crucial to preserving ecosystems and meeting the needs of the population and the economy. In this way, focused water conservation efforts contribute to the sustainable management of this precious resource. Since 2004. We are required to carry out a series of works aimed at achieving the goal of the Water Framework Directive, which is to achieve good status of all groundwater bodies, by implementing the necessary measures. Important elements of this work include proper water monitoring and management plans for groundwater bodies. The results of the evaluation show that there is more to work on.

Improving groundwater is a long-term challenge, but concern for future generations and the environment requires effective action now. For the past year, we have had new water management plans for every river basin in Poland, and there ambitious recovery programs assigned to each groundwater body. They are intended to improve or maintain their condition. Let’s hope that the measures taken will be effective and actually contribute to the improvement of groundwater.

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