A Surface and Groundwater Risk Assessment evaluates the potential risks to water resources from various activities, particularly those that could lead to contamination. This assessment is crucial for maintaining the quality and safety of water bodies, in compliance with UK environmental laws and regulations.
Firstly, information is gathered about the site e.g. site topography, existing water bodies, the nature of the soil/bedrock and any potential sources of contamination. Computer simulations are then produced to imitate how contamination may move through the environment and reach water bodies.
Physical sampling of soil and water are then carried out. This can include drilling boreholes, installing monitoring wells, and collecting water samples from rivers, lakes, or groundwater. Laboratory analysis of these samples helps to confirm the presence and concentration of contaminants.
The collected data and modelling results are used to evaluate the level of risk to surface and groundwater. This involves assessing the likelihood and potential impact of contamination on water quality and ecosystems, in accordance with UK water quality standards and regulations. If risks are identified, the assessment will include recommendations for mitigating these risks. This could involve remediation of contaminated sites, changes in land use practices, or implementing protective measures like buffer zones around water bodies.
The findings and recommendations of the assessment must be reported to relevant authorities, like the Environment Agency, and often form part of planning and development applications.
Finally, ongoing monitoring is recommended to ensure that the water quality remains protected and to detect any changes in the risk profile over time. This is particularly important in dynamic environments or where land use is changing.
Throughout the process, UK-specific legal and environmental guidelines are adhered to, ensuring that the assessment not only identifies risks but also contributes to the sustainable management of water resources.