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Groundwater Projects

Environment Agency - Anglian Region strategy for Groundwater investigation and modelling

The Environment Agency has developed a national framework entitled 'Environment Agency Framework for Groundwater Resources; Conceptual & Numerical Modelling' issued as R&D Technical Report W214 (2001) and to support this a series of regional strategies were developed. Nationally this has lead to the development of 34 groundwater models In Anglian Region a 10 year strategy was drawn up (Grout 1998) for groundwater investigation and the development of 8 groundwater models. This was implemented in 1999 through the establishment of a framework project with Entec UK Ltd.

Project aims

East Anglia is the driest part of the UK, with effective rainfall levels as low as in places such as Morocco and Ethiopia, so it has a major reliance on groundwater for water supplies with nearly 75% coming from underground aquifers. With this huge dependence on groundwater, there is a need for the Environment Agency to manage these resources effectively. To do this, Entec was appointed by the Agency in 1999 to undertake the first part of a 10 year strategy to produce mathematical groundwater models of the major aquifers across the region. These are to be used as key tools in producing management options for abstraction. A total of eight models are to be produced, each representing a significant undertaking.

Additionally, after Entec was appointed in 1999, the Environment Agency embarked upon meeting its statutory obligations under the European Habitats Directive (2000) which required them to review all their consents ( e.g. groundwater abstractions) that could impact groundwater dependant eco-systems across the region -there are over a hundred Natura 2000 sites in this region. The Habitats Directive work is a task that is helping the Agency to achieve the balance of sustainable abstraction to meet public supply alongside the need to safeguard important environmental needs. The availability of the regional groundwater models has therefore helped considerably with this work.


To date, two of the models have been completed, four more are under going construction and calibration and one (Lincolnshire Chalk) has recently started. The eighth model (Lincolnshire Limestone) is being done by Atkins. The development of the models is managed by Agency staff supported by a team of external advisors drawn from within the Agency and leading experts in this field. To give you some idea of the size of the groundwater models they are on average about 75x75km with 5-7 layers with a separate rainfall recharge model (4R). Grid size is 200m x 200m resulting in nearly a million cells per model. Models are run for a period of approximately 35 years. The ability exists for the adjacent models to be linked thus providing full coverage of the major aquifers across the region.

The models and their underlying data sets provide the Agency with the most up to date hydrogeological information. The completed models themselves will be accessed through the Agency's National Groundwater Modelling System (NGMS) which is currently under development.

In 2004 the Framework was re-tendered to deliver the second part of the strategy and continuing Habitats Directive work which culminates in 2010. Entec was reappointed as lead consultant together with Atkins. The programme also has significant groundwater monitoring which is being undertaken by Mouchel Parkman (Ewans).

In addition to the above, this project is also actively helping the Agency deliver on a number of its key drivers including the Water Framework Directive (to be implemented by 2010), its CAMS programme, the review of the Anglian Region Groundwater Monitoring Network (as a result of the National Audit Office requirement to review of costs) and the review of SPZ's.

The national strategy was recently reviewed (van Wonderen and Wilson 2006) and a series of recommendations made supporting the approach adopted and aimed at strengthening the benefits from the modelling work.

Further details

Project poster (pdf, 1.7 Mb)

Grout M W, 1998. Strategy for Groundwater Investigations and modelling: A framework for managing groundwater resources. Environment Agency Anglian Region (unpub)

Van Wonderon, J J and Wilson C H, 2006. 5-Yearly Review of the Environment Agency's Groundwater Models (Ed M I Whiteman) Environment Agency 223060/01/C


Agency Project Executive: Dr Mark Grout 01733 464605

Entec Framework Manager: Dr Tim Haines 01743 232024

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