From June 12 to June 17th, in the scope of the EU4Environment Water & Data programme, a team of Georgian scientists supervised by experts from the Environment Agency Austria gathered in Tbilisi to realise a comprehensive groundwater assessment training and a groundwater sampling audit.
The groundwater audit aimed to assess the respect of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards and the EU Water Framework and Groundwater Directives to monitor groundwater.
On June 12th and 13th, the experts took part in an on-site sampling training in a small municipality close to Tbilisi. On the following days they had a training on groundwater bodies status assessment methodology and a workshop on groundwater body delineation. The water body is a coherent sub-unit in the river basin to which the environmental objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive must apply.
The EU framework for groundwater monitoring
The rules for assessing the good status of groundwater are slightly different from those for surface water (lakes, rivers, reservoirs). Good chemical and quantitative status is the objective set by the EU Water Framework Directive. The EU Groundwater directive sets EU-wide groundwater quality standards for a small number of pollutants and requires Member States to set threshold values for substances of national and river basin concern.
The soundness of policy decisions is directly related to the reliability of the data gathered by monitoring programmes. And monitoring reliability in turn is predominantly linked to scientific and technological progress, as well as to the careful use of proper equipment, methods and techniques by the staff responsible for the water sampling and laboratory analytics.
Groundwater: a hidden resource not to be forgotten
Groundwater is water that is present under the surface of the Earth. Due to various human activities, it can be polluted, for example by chemicals, wastewater, and other substances that seep into the ground. Groundwater is difficult to clean, and many people rely on it as their primary (drinking) water source.
Since groundwater renews and moves slowly through the subsurface, the impact of anthropogenic activities may last for a long time. Groundwater is often linked to wetlands and surface water and feeds rivers, especially in low flow and dry periods. Hence, deterioration of groundwater quality and/or reduction of groundwater resources may directly affect related terrestrial and surface water ecosystems.
Groundwater is a “hidden resource” for which pollution prevention, monitoring and restoration are more difficult than for surface waters, due to its inaccessibility.
Credit pictures: Andreas Scheidleder, Environment Agency Austria for EU4Environment Water and Data