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Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS)
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Groundwater is almost the only source of drinking water in Denmark, and as such the most important element of the Danish freshwater resources. For many years research and advice concerning the exploitation and protection of groundwater and water resources have been among the main activities at the Geological Survey. Since the early 1980s investigations brought into awareness the problems associated with landfills, industrial facilities and intensive farming which initiated a series of research activities based on which detailed legalisation related to water resources was drawn up. During the 1990s systematic intensive investigations of pesticides in groundwater have revealed a widespread contamination that endangers the traditional, decentralised water supply system based on simple water treatment methods.

As one of the main actors, GEUS has obtained a wide experience and knowledge through an extensive contribution to the development of groundwater and water resources in Denmark. Today the key activities are concentrated on the exploitation and protection of water resources as a whole considering integrated and balanced use of the resources for water-supply, irrigation, preservation of ecosystems, and industry on a sustainable basis. The key activities at GEUS include investigation and analysis of the accessibility, quantity and quality of the water resources, within the areas of:

  • Groundwater extraction and resource evaluation
  • Groundwater protection
  • Groundwater - surface water interaction
  • Groundwater pollution, including pesticide surveys
  • Rehabilitation of water resources
  • Groundwater monitoring
  • Integrated water resources planning

On a national level GEUS completes regional analyses through systematic measurements and modelling of the development in quantity and quality of the water resources. The backbone of these activities is the National Centre for Groundwater and Well data, which has been in function since the Danish Water Supply Act was formulated in 1926 (worlds first), and now contains digital well log data from more than 270.000 boreholes in Denmark. In addition GEUS is the topic centre for Danish Groundwater Monitoring, including the operation of an early warning system for pesticide leaching, and giving the annually updated status of groundwater quality and quantity. Furthermore GEUS is developing a National Water Resources Model which will help to compute the changes in the distribution of the water resources on regional and national level caused by changes in climate, land use, and groundwater withdrawal. Flow in double porous media, soil-water interaction, transport of contaminants and bio-degradation are key fields of research.

The staffing within the water resources area at GEUS numbers a total of 50 - 60 specialists, including PhD's, MSc's, and technicians, which provide consulting services to public and private sectors in Denmark and abroad. This includes Danish as well as international donor projects in Eastern Europe and in developing countries. The project activities are supported by a number of tools and systems which are constantly being maintained and developed and includes the following:
  • Geophysical logging techniques
  • Hydraulic testing and sampling tools
  • Age dating methods and tracer techniques
  • Advanced laboratory capability for chemical and microbiological analyses
  • Data processing tools and GIS systems
  • Groundwater flow modelling

Well-developed network structures are a prerequisite for efficient and high quality implementation of projects. Within the water resources area GEUS collaborates with private consulting companies, research institutes, universities, etc. depending on the nature of the activities. This includes the permanent research co-operation with the Technical University of Denmark, the "Groundwater Group", and the co-operation between the European geological surveys, the EuroGeoSurveys Groundwater Topic Network, which among other things provides the European Union with advice and information, and promotes transfer of European know-how to third world countries. The Survey has within the last few years been engaged in a number of planning and monitoring projects in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Africa and Central America.

Annually about 20 pct. of the budget is allocated to water resources.

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