The inter-relationship between civil engineering works and groundwater protection

Civil engineering construction works often have significant impacts on groundwater conditions. Some effects, such as derogation of sources by dewatering abstractions, are easily identified. Others, such as creation of pathways by foundations or ground improvement processes, are less obvious and may not be identified sufficiently early during the planning process.

Under current UK practice there is little formal regulatory control of dewatering and related works, although this will change in England and Wales when new abstraction licensing regulations are introduced in the near future. Unfortunately, at present, not all of the construction industry is not familiar with the inter-relationship between construction processes and groundwater protection. The future challenge for environmental regulators will be to understand the full range of construction impacts and to increase the awareness of groundwater issues within the construction industry.

This paper describes the full range of potential groundwater impacts that may result from construction activities. Comparisons are made with the mining and quarrying industries, where there is greater awareness of potential impacts on groundwater. Recommendations are made on how environmental regulatory bodies can better deal with civil engineering activities.

Preene M. and Brassington F.C. (2001) The inter-relationship between civil engineering works and groundwater protection. In Protecting Groundwater Environment Agency, National Groundwater & Contaminated Land Centre, Solihull, pp 313-320.


Eur Geol Eur Ing Professor F.C. Brassington BSc MSc CGeol FGS CEng MICE FCIWEM