Depth And Extent of Penetration of Urban Recharge and Contamination Into UK Aquifers

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This project is establishing the depth and extent to which the aquifers beneath the conurbations of Birmingham and Nottingham are contaminated, the buffering capacity of the aquifers, and the degree to which shallow industrial abstractions are removing contaminants, thus protecting the deeper aquifer.


West Midlands/Nottingham


To address these issues, the approach is to:

  • install a network of open, fully penetrating boreholes distributed in the conurbations, lined to prevent mixing when not in use (initial sampling is being carried out during installation)
  • log the boreholes to locate high flow zones
  • undertake hydraulic tests as requested by Severn Trent Water plc
  • take samples from the boreholes using the Bradford on-line packer system over a period of two years to establish variations in organic and inorganic species with depth and time
  • compare the relative penetration of reactive and non-reactive species to establish aquifer buffering
  • interpret this data to establish the viability of sustainable high quality abstractions.

Start date/duration

October 1997 - four years

Lead Organisations

University of Sheffield

University of Surrey

University of Bradford


The deliverables of this project include an inception report, biannual reports, a final report and published papers on the scientific results. This information will include rates of penetration of urban recharge and contaminants, and the factors which control this penetration. There will also be a database of detailed information on groundwater quality variations with depth and hydrogeological property variations. The information will be a significant tool for management strategies on the sustainable use of urban aquifers. It will be available for industry, the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water plc.


Environment Agency

Seven Trent Water plc

Further Details

Further information is available from the following contacts:

Lead Researcher: Prof D N Lerner

el: 0114 222 5743, Fax: 0114 222 5701, e-mail: 

URGENT Programme Manager: Graham Leeks

Tel: 01491 692203, Fax: 01491 692313, e-mail: