The Groundwater Directives aim to protect groundwater from pollution.
The existing Groundwater Directive (80/68/EEC) aims to protect groundwater from pollution by controlling discharges and disposals of certain dangerous substances to groundwater. In the UK, the directive is implemented through the Groundwater Regulations (GWR) 2009.
We protect groundwater under these regulations by preventing or limiting the inputs of polluting substances into groundwater. Substances controlled under these regulations fall into two categories:
- Hazardous substances are the most toxic and must be prevented from entering groundwater. Substances in this list may be disposed of to the ground, under a permit, but must not reach groundwater. They include pesticides, sheep dip, solvents, hydrocarbons, mercury, cadmium and cyanide. Hazardous substances replace the previous List 1 substances which came under the 1998 GWR.
- Non-hazardous pollutants are less dangerous, and can be discharged to groundwater under a permit, but must not cause pollution. Examples include sewage, trade effluent and most wastes. Non-hazardous pollutants include any substance capable of causing pollution and the list is much wider than the previous List 2 substances. For example, nitrate is included as a pollutant but it was excluded from List 2 in the 1998 GWR.
The existing Groundwater Directive is to be repealed by the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (WFD) in 2013. The GWR 2009 have recently been made law to enact both the WFD and its Daughter Directive 2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater. This new Groundwater Directive (2006/118/EC) is commonly referred to as the Groundwater Daughter Directive (GWDD).
If you handle, store or dispose of listed substances, which include agrochemicals, solvents, hydrocarbon-based fuels and other chemicals, these regulations apply to you.
We use our powers for groundwater protection through the permitting process and by advising on statutory pollution prevention. Find out more.
The Groundwater Regulations 2009 protect groundwater by controlling the discharge or disposal of potentially harmful and polluting materials. This leaflet provides a brief overview of these regulations.