01 May 2006

Groundwater and the groundwater daughter directive

The Groundwater Directive (GWD) is a daughter directive of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and has the potential to significantly affect downstream petroleum operations. It is currently undergoing its second reading in the EU parliament and gives rise to very heated debates between MEPs, the Commission and stakeholders who will be subject to its provisions. One key issue in this debate is whether or not all groundwater should be managed under drinking water quality standards.

The science of hydrogeology teaches us that water interacts with the surrounding geological structures. By implication, achieving drinking water quality in all cases is not feasible from either a technical or an economic perspective. This is not only because of remediation issues but also because, in some locations, the volumetric yield will not be high enough to justify the economics.

As a result, one should not manage all groundwaters in the same way. It is important for decision makers to be well informed of the scientific and economic aspects of groundwater if they are to create a pragmatic Directive that Member States can implement and industry can comply with technically and economically.

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