People around the world rely on groundwater for irrigation and consumption, but it can be contaminated with heavy metals, fuel, sewage, fertilizers, and pesticides due to human activities, including landfills, urban stormwater, sewer leaks, fuel spills, agriculture, animal husbandry, land clearing, and resource extraction. Groundwater contamination can have negative effects on human health, the environmental, and ecosystem services.
Studies have found that the clearing of native vegetation can decrease groundwater quality due to the release of salts from soils, from decreasing infiltration, and increasing runoff; urbanization can lead to higher levels of nitrogen compounds, other chemicals, salts, and pathogens in groundwater.
The European Groundwater Directive’s goals are to limit or prevent further contamination by agricultural nitrates, biocides, wastewater, landfill leachate in the air, surface water, and soil that can end up in groundwater, as well as to protect and restore natural sensitive areas that are associated with aquifers.
Nature-based solutions, such as infiltration trenches, rain gardens, bioswales, wetlands, and floodplains, that allow for water infiltration, leads to groundwater recharge, water treatment, and improved groundwater quality.