A Review of Groundwater Levels in the South-East of Ireland: Review of Groundwater Level Data in the South Eastern River Basin District

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Resource or Project Abstract

Groundwater level monitoring, and the subsequent evaluation and interpretation of records, provides fundamental information on the nature of aquifers and the groundwater regime. Consistent monitoring over time allows hydrogeological trends to be identified and their implications assessed. Groundwater level data have been collected in Ireland since the late 1960s. Typically, monitoring was conducted during the course of different projects implemented by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) or local authorities. In the 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency took responsibility for groundwater monitoring in Ireland and set up a new national monitoring network for groundwater quality and levels. In 2006, this network was reviewed and updated in accordance with European Union legislation. This report presents the analysis of groundwater level data available for the South Eastern River Basin District (SERBD). On a national scale, the climate of the SERBD is reasonably dry. Effective rainfall was calculated using the Food and Agriculture Organization Penman' Monteith soil moisture budgeting method, in order to compare groundwater level variations. The geology of the SERBD is extremely heterogeneous, comprising bedrock strata of principally Lower Palaeozoic, Devonian and Carboniferous age, with extensive and spatially variable overlying subsoil deposits. In general, groundwater flow in the bedrock is through secondary porosity and is dominated by fracture flow. The groundwater flow paths are likely to be shallow, predominantly in the upper layer of the aquifer, with enhanced weathering and open fractures. However, the karstified and dolomitised limestones may have permeable zones at greater depths. In contrast to the bedrock aquifers, sand and gravel aquifers provide an opportunity for intergranular groundwater flow. Tills are the most widespread subsoil deposit, and while they do not form aquifer units, they may influence any underlying aquifers. Groundwater level data and monitoring point (MP) information for MPs within the SERBD have been collated into a publicly available database. Hydrographs with suitably long records have been analysed. For ease of discussion, the MPs have been divided into a number of groups. Comparison within and between groups provides an opportunity for insight into the various hydrogeological settings. The phenomenon of rejected recharge is observed in the hydrographs of locally important aquifers as short-term recharge and recession events observed during winter and spring months when groundwater levels are elevated. Recharge events are observed during the summer months in hydrographs from the heavily karstified Nuenna Catchment. This may be due to the influence of localised summer effective rainfall or point recharge. Analysis of seasonal groundwater levels showed that bedrock aquifers reach their annual maximum and minimum groundwater levels before gravel aquifers, and typically have a longer recession period. The difference is likely to be due to the discrepancy in storage between the fractured bedrock and gravel aquifers, as well as to the thick unsaturated zones overlying the featured gravel aquifers. The aquifer storage property, specific yield, was calculated for a number of the settings using the average annual groundwater level variation. The values supported estimates from previous research on aquifers in the SERBD. The report includes a review of work conducted by the GSI and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland on the observed short-term groundwater level fluctuations in the SERBD, and elsewhere, due to global seismic events. This work was prompted by the observation of groundwater fluctuations coincident with the 2004 Saint Stephen's Day Indian Ocean earthquake. An analysis of long-term groundwater level trends was undertaken to investigate if any impacts of climate change were evident in groundwater levels in the SERBD. The analysis showed no consistent change in the timing of groundwater level minima or maxima in the SERBD. The data collected, however, may provide a useful baseline against which potential future trends may be measured. Finally, a number of potential future research areas have been identified. The suggested areas include investigations into: = The influence of subsoil properties on short-term hydrograph responses; = The influence of groundwater drinking-water abstractions; = The relationship between groundwater levels and spring flows; and = Long-term groundwater level trends.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Katie Tedd
Trinity College Dublin
Environmental Research Scientist
Department of Geology Dublin 2, Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
Telephone: +353 1 2680201
e-mail: teddk@tcd.ie

Dr. Bruce Misstear
Trinity College Dublin
Senior Lecturer
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Museum Building, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 1 8962212
e-mail: bmisster@tcd.ie

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Offline Print Quality Version    ERC_17_Tedd_Groundwater_prn.pdf  (11.26 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    ERC_17_Tedd_Groundwater_web.pdf  (4.47 Mb)
Att 3    tedd-report-erc-17-references-and-acronyms.pdf   (0.67 Mb)
Att 4    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-4.pdf   (1.61 Mb)
Att 5    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-5.pdf   (2.5 Mb)
Att 6    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-6.pdf   (0.93 Mb)
Att 7    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-7.pdf   (2.93 Mb)
Att 8    tedd-report-erc-17-appendices.pdf   (3.01 Mb)
Att 9    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-1.pdf   (0.87 Mb)
Att 10    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-2.pdf   (1.03 Mb)
Att 11    tedd-report-erc-17-chapter-3.pdf   (1.56 Mb)

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Author(s)Tedd, K. Misstear, B.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationA Review of Groundwater Levels in the South-East of Ireland: Review of Groundwater Level Data in the South Eastern River Basin District
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=cdde4e49-4157-102f-8c70-b53a025bc1b8
Unique Identifiercdde4e49-4157-102f-8c70-b53a025bc1b8
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2017-10-22

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Tedd, K. Misstear, B.   "A Review of Groundwater Levels in the South-East of Ireland: Review of Groundwater Level Data in the South Eastern River Basin District". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland http://erc.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=cdde4e49-4157-102f-8c70-b53a025bc1b8 (Last Accessed: 2017-10-22)

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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=234
Resource Keywordsflow, river basin district, level, water, groundwater
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project CodeERC_17
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWater Quality
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Public-Open
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 11
Project Start Date Tuesday 1st January 2008 (01-01-2008)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Tuesday 1st January 2008 (01-01-2008)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 1st September 2011 (01-09-2011)
Published on SAFERThursday 6th October 2011 (06-10-2011)
Date of Last EditTuesday 20th September 2016 at 11:20:53 (20-09-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Tuesday 20th September 2016 at 11:20:53 (20-09-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
This report focuses on groundwater levels in the South Eastern River Basin District (SERBD), which comprises the river basins of the Suir, Nore, Barrow and Slaney Rivers, as well as a number of smaller coastal rivers. The SERBD comprises Counties Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow and parts of Waterford, Tipperary, Laois, Kildare and Wicklow. The study area is bounded to the north-east by the Wicklow Mountains (highest point 927 m), to the north-west by the Slieve Bloom to Silvermines range, to the southwest by the Galtee Mountains (highest point 920 m) and the Comeragh and Monavullagh Mountains (highest point 792 m), and to the south-east by the coast. Other notable landforms within the study area are the Castlecomer Plateau (up to 600 m), the Slieveardagh Hills (up to 600 m), Slievenamon (up to 600 m) and the Blackstairs Mountains (highest point 796 m). The main lowlands of the study area are the: = Thurles to Mountrath Lowlands (to the west of the Castlecomer Plateau and Slieveardagh Hills), which lie typically between 130 and 100 maOD2; = Callan to Carlow Lowlands (to the east of the Castlecomer Plateau and the Slieveardagh Hills), which lie typically between 90 and 30 maOD; and = Coastal lowlands (to the east of the Blackstairs Mountains), which lie typically between 60 maOD and sea level. The Rivers Suir, Barrow and Nore rise in the Slieve Bloom to Silvermines Mountains. The three rivers take different courses before converging in the Waterford Estuary. The River Suir flows south from its source past the Galtee Mountains, then east past Slievenamon before flowing into the Waterford Estuary. The River Nore initially flows north-east along the length of Slieve Bloom, then south-east between the Castlecomer Plateau and the Slieveardagh Hills before flowing into the Waterford Estuary. The King?s River, a major tributary of the River Nore, rises in the Slieveardagh Hills and flows into the River Nore just upstream of its transition into the Waterford Estuary. The River Barrow flows east from the eastern flanks of Slieve Bloom, then flows south-east and south between the Castlecomer Plateau and the Wicklow Mountains before flowing into the Waterford Estuary. The River Slaney rises in the Wicklow Mountains and flows south-east into the Wexford Estuary. The EPA monitors the flow of rivers at 134 hydrometric stations within the SERBD.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

In this section some supplementary information about this resource is outlined. Lineage information helps us to understand why this project was carried out, what policy or research requirements did it fulfil, etc. Lineage is important in understanding the rationale behind the carrying out of a project or the collection of a specific dataset etc. Links to web sites, applications, papers, etc are outlined to provide you with additional information or supplementary reading about the project or dataset

Lineage information about this project or dataset
One of the tasks assigned to the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1990s was to prepare a national programme for the collection, analysis and publication of information on levels, volumes and flows of water in rivers, lakes and groundwaters in Ireland. Until this point, no organisation had any specific statutory responsibility for groundwater and there was no specific groundwater legislation in Ireland (Wright, 1994). Initially, groundwater levels were dipped at approximately quarterly frequency. In 2006, the EPA set up a new national monitoring network for groundwater quality and levels in accordance with European Union (EU) legislation, namely the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC) (European Commission, 2000). The network comprises 305 MPs in the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland. Groundwater levels are monitored at 107 MPs in 22 of The overall objectives of this joint EPA GSI Trinity College Dublin (TCD) report were to collate and analyse the groundwater level data available for the SERBD. The analysis of the groundwater level data aims to provide insights into the hydrogeological situation and to enable a review of the value of monitoring in the region.
Supplementary Information
Other authors include:

Catherine Coxon
Department of Geology
Trinity College Dublin

Donal Daly
Hydrometric & Groundwater Section
Environmental Protection Agency


Taly Hunter Williams
Groundwater Section
Geological Survey of Ireland
Links To Other Related Resources
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