Protecting groundwater

Our role in managing and protecting groundwater

Natural Resources Wales is the statutory body responsible for the management and protection of groundwater resources in Wales.

What is groundwater?

Groundwater is the water stored in soil and rocks underground. Groundwater is a vital resource, providing base flow to springs, rivers and wetlands and supplies up to 10% of drinking water in Wales. In rural areas, groundwater may be the only viable water source for isolated properties.

Groundwater is vulnerable to pollution, and once polluted it can be difficult and expensive to clean up. We aim to prevent damage to groundwater in the first place rather than having to restore it later.

How we manage and protect groundwater in Wales

Natural Resources Wales have adopted the Environment Agency’s approach to protecting groundwater available on Gov.UK. This sets out:

  • our aims and objectives for groundwater
  • our approach to its management and protection
  • our position and approach to the application of relevant legislation
  • the tools we use to do our work
  • technical guidance for groundwater specialists

These pages, and the position statements they contain, will be of interest to developers, planners, environmental permit applicants and holders, abstractors, operators and anyone whose current or proposed activities have an impact on, or are affected by groundwater.

Our staff use these position statements as a framework to make decisions on the planning and environmental permitting applications we receive.

The primary aim of the position statements is the prevention of pollution of groundwater and protection of it as a resource. Groundwater protection is long term, so these principles and position statements aim to protect and enhance this valuable resource for future generations.

Welsh Government’s codes of practice

Welsh Government have published codes of practice which will help reduce your risk of causing groundwater pollution. These codes cover the use of:

Underground storage tanks


Sheep Dip

Contacting us for more information

If you’re planning a new development and want more detailed advice from us on how to manage risks to groundwater please visit our discretionary advice service page. This sets out the service we offer and how much we’ll charge for this advice.