Groundwater is rainwater that has travelled through the soil to underground aquifers. It makes up about 90 percent of the region’s fresh water resource. Aquifers are areas of fractured rocks or porous sediments such as sand and gravel.
Wells pump groundwater from aquifers. We use it for drinking, in industry, agriculture and horticulture.
Around half of our region’s rural population rely on groundwater for drinking.
Rainfall naturally replaces water pumped from aquifers. The amount of water in our aquifers will sustain our needs as long as we don’t take too much. Recent years have seen large increases in the amount of surface and groundwater used in our region.
When too much groundwater is taken from aquifers:
Contamination of groundwater can occur when substances make their way down through the soil into the underlying aquifers. This generally happens slowly and may not be noticed for some time, but once groundwater is polluted it is very difficult to clean up. That’s why it’s so important to protect and monitor our valuable groundwater resource.
Contaminants in our groundwater come from either point (from specific locations) or non-point sources (from wider areas).
|Point sources include:||Non-point sources include:|
|Septic tanks, leaking effluent treatment ponds and landfills||Pesticide and fertiliser applications|
|Leaking underground fuel tanks and pipelines||Agricultural land use|
|Mines and waste tailings||Application of wastes to land|
|Chemical storage areas and timber treatment sites||Saltwater intrusion.|
|Waste disposal sites, such as offal holes.|
In many areas groundwater quality is declining due to:
The nutrients present in groundwater affect the plants and animals that live in the rivers and streams it flows into.
The way we use our land can have major effects on groundwater quality. To make sure we look after our groundwater supplies, Waikato Regional Council:
We also support codes of practice and industry guidelines for: