GSI Source Protection Areas

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Areas surrounding individual groundwater sources are termed source protection areas (SPAs). Two source protection areas are recommended for delineation: Inner Protection Area (SI); Outer Protection Area (SO), encompassing the remainder of the source catchment area or ZOC. Inner Protection Area (SI) This area is designed to protect against the effects of human activities that might have an immediate effect on the source and, in particular, against microbial pollution. The area is defined by a 100-day time of travel (TOT) from any point below the water table to the source. (The TOT varies significantly between regulatory agencies in different countries. The 100-day limit is chosen for Ireland as a relatively conservative limit to allow for the heterogeneous nature of Irish aquifers and to reduce the risk of pollution from bacteria and viruses, which in some circumstances can live longer than 50 days in groundwater.) In karst areas, it will not usually be feasible to delineate 100-day TOT boundaries, as there are large variations in permeability, high flow velocities and a low level of predictability. In these areas, the total catchment area of the source will frequently be classed as SI. Outer Protection Area (SO) This area covers the remainder of the ZOC (or complete catchment area) of the groundwater source. It is defined as the area needed to support an abstraction from long-term groundwater recharge i.e. the proportion of effective rainfall that infiltrates to the water table. The abstraction rate used in delineating the zone will depend on the views and recommendations of the source owner. A factor of safety can be taken into account whereby the maximum daily abstraction rate is increased (typically by 50%) for expansion of the ZOC in dry periods, and possibly to allow for possible future increases in abstraction. In order to take account of the heterogeneity of many Irish aquifers and possible errors in estimating the groundwater flow direction, a variation in the flow direction (typically ±10-20°) is frequently included as a safety margin in delineating the ZOC. In delineating the inner (SI) and outer (SO) protection areas, there are two broad approaches: first, using arbitrary fixed radii, which do not incorporate hydrogeological considerations; and secondly, a scientific approach using hydrogeological information and analysis, in particular the hydrogeological characteristics of the aquifer, the direction of groundwater flow, the pumping rate and the recharge. The SPAs in this dataset are based on scientific, hydrogeological mapping. There are several hydrogeological methods for delineating SPAs. They vary in complexity, cost and the level of data and hydrogeological analysis required. Four methods, in order of increasing technical sophistication, are used: (i) calculated fixed radius; (ii) analytical methods; (iii) hydrogeological mapping; and (iv) numerical modelling. The GSI and EPA use the latter three methods for Source Protection Area delineation for public supplies. Even with relatively good hydrogeological data, the heterogeneity of Irish aquifers will generally prevent the delineation of definitive SPA boundaries. Consequently, the boundaries must be seen as a guide for decision-making, which can be reappraised in the light of new knowledge or changed circumstances. The boundaries of the SPAs are based on the horizontal flow of water to the source and, in the case particularly of the Inner Protection Area, on the time of travel in the aquifer. Consequently, the vertical movement of a water particle or contaminant from the land surface to the water table is not taken into account. This vertical movement is a critical factor in contaminant attenuation, contaminant flow velocities and in dictating the likelihood of contamination. It can be taken into account by mapping the groundwater vulnerability to contamination.

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Theme Science
Date dataset released 2012-01-12
Date dataset updated 2016-11-18
Dataset conforms to these standards The INSPIRE Directive or INSPIRE lays down a general framework for a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for the purposes of European Community environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.
Rights notes ['Creative Commons licence conditions apply', 'https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/', 'license', 'https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/', 'license']
Update frequency Other
Language English
Geographic coverage in GeoJSON format {"type":"Polygon","coordinates":[[[-10.47472, 51.44555],[-10.47472, 55.37999], [-6.01306, 55.37999], [-6.01306, 51.44555], [-10.47472, 51.44555]]]}
Spatial Reference Systems (SRS) TM75 / Irish Grid (EPSG:29903)
Vertical Extent {"maxVerticalExtent": "1041", "verticalDomainName": "sea level", "minVerticalExtent": "0"}
Provenance information Areas surrounding individual groundwater sources are termed source protection areas (SPAs). Two source protection areas are recommended for delineation: • Inner Protection Area (SI); • Outer Protection Area (SO), encompassing the remainder of the source catchment area or ZOC.
Period of time covered (begin) 2008-01-16
Period of time covered (end) 2011-07-14