Quality protection

Land use regulations for quality protection

Most groundwater originates directly from excess rainfall infiltrating the land surface. Thus, land use has a major influence on both groundwater quality and recharge rates. Different land-use practices leave distinctive signatures on the quality of groundwater recharge and, in some instances, result in diffuse groundwater pollution, irrespective of climatic conditions. Similarly, land-use practices influence groundwater recharge rates.

In order to avoid groundwater pollution problems, selective land-use management policies and specific associated control measures need to be introduced to promote groundwater recharge quality protection at the local scale. Such policies and measures can provide major economic and ecological returns in the long run by preserving groundwater quality.

Instruments that facilitate improved integration of land-use and groundwater governance fall into three categories:

  • Policy & Planning- national agriculture, water resource and environmental policy guidelines
  • Regulatory- land-owner constraint through regulation or municipal decree, including local integrated water resource plans, groundwater-use rights and aquifer management plans
  • Participatory- land owner participation through incentives, such as land purchasing and leasing agreements, agro-environmental management and payments for ecosystem services.