Groundwater plays an essential role in the hydrological cycle and is critical for maintaining wetlands and river flows and acting as a buffer during dry periods. In other words, it provides the base flow (i.e. the water which feeds rivers all year round) to surface water systems, many of which are used for water supply and recreation.

In many rivers across Europe for example, more than 50% of the annual flow is derived from groundwater. In low-flow periods this figure can rise to more than 90% and hence, deterioration of groundwater quality may directly affect related surface water and terrestrial ecosystems.

Freshwater of the world

Groundwater constitutes the largest reservoir of freshwater in the world, accounting for over 97% of all freshwaters available on earth (excluding glaciers and ice caps). The remaining 3% is composed mainly of surface water (lakes, rivers, wetlands) and soil moisture. Until recently, focus on groundwater mainly concerned its use as drinking water, and recognizing that it is also an important resource for industry (e.g. cooling waters) and agriculture (irrigation). It has, however, become increasingly obvious that groundwater should not only be viewed as a water supply reservoir, but should also be protected for its environmental value.

Essential ingredient to a viable community

Abundant, high quality groundwater is essential to all nations and citizens. Our most precious natural resource, the groundwater, is to be protected for all of us. Access to clean, safe drinking water is the essential ingredient to a healthy and viable community.
The ongoing worldwide discourse on water quality protection and pollution prevention continues to rank high on worldwide agendas.

Pollution lasts long

Since groundwater moves slowly through the subsurface, the impact of anthropogenic activities may last for a long time. This means that pollution that occurred some decades ago – whether from agriculture, industry or other human activities – may still be threatening ground- water quality today and, in some cases, will continue to do so for several generations to come.

Risk assessment and prevention

The Norwegian company Borregard has high focus on risk assessment and prevention.

The international group which holds sales offices and plants in 16 countries, has one of the world`s most advanced and sustainable bio-refineries. For its tank farm in Sarpsborg in Norway the company decided to have a robust groundwater protection against chemicals in case of any accidents. Therefore highly chemical resistant membranes for safe and fast upgrading of floors and retaining walls were a must.

The use of a membrane simplified the renovation without complicated renovation of the concrete.

Membranes protect water

After cleaning the surface with high pressure water, Sikaplan® WP 6200-20C, the membrane was installed by Borge Miljøservice AS. In addition to high chemical resistance the membrane also withstands UV-radiation. The product is made from Polyolefin (FPO), and is produced without phthalates and can be recycled after end of lifetime.

Security in industrial plants helps

According to WHO (World Health Organization) an estimated 768 million people did not use an improved source for drinking-water in 2011 and 185 million relied on surface water to meet their daily drinking-water needs. Freshwater continues to be limited and its quality is under constant pressure. Preserving freshwater quality is important for drinking water supply, food production and recreational water. And securing industrial plants and farms for sure will help to keep water`s quality safer.