A groundwater monitoring network for Glasgow

Groundwater monitoring borehole, Glasgow

Nowadays, in Glasgow and the wider Clyde valley, there is little groundwater abstraction; even though in the past groundwater was used for brewing, industrial processing, for domestic use, and mine dewatering.

Glasgow, like most UK cities, has no formal monitoring network to measure groundwater levels or groundwater quality.

There is a growing recognition that, even where groundwater is not actively used for water supply, it can play an important role in the functioning of the urban environment, affecting:

  • surface ecosystems
  • surface water quality
  • urban drainage and flooding

Designing a monitoring network

The BGS is developing a pilot groundwater monitoring network to help improve our understanding of the behaviour of the shallow aquifer system in Glasgow — with support from Glasgow City Council (GCC) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

At the start of the project, groundwater level and groundwater chemistry data, collected by third parties, at specific regeneration sites were made available from GCC and site contractors.

Data from the sites were compiled in a new, dedicated database and incorporated within BGS's 3D geological models to develop an integrated conceptual groundwater model of large parts of the city.

Managing the practicalities of using third-party site investigation data to inform larger scale urban monitoring is an important part of our project and will help inform similar work in other cities.

Pilot network

Using the preliminary understanding of Glasgow's groundwater system, we have selected six existing (third party) site investigation boreholes, which are of suitable quality to adopt onto the first phase of our pilot urban groundwater monitoring network.

All the boreholes are located along the River Clyde valley within the east end of Glasgow, and in the first instance are monitoring groundwater levels within the Gourock Sand Member and Paisley Clay Member geological units.

Groundwater temperature and conductivity is also being measured at some of the sites. In future they may also be used for groundwater quality monitoring.

Whilst these six boreholes give a reasonable coverage across east Glasgow, gaps still exist, particularly in the central and western parts of the city, and we are actively seeking more groundwater data and further boreholes for inclusion within the pilot network.

Visualising groundwater levels in monitoring boreholes in a cross section from a 3D geological model
Location of the monitoring boreholes selected for the pilot network.


Please contact Brighid Ó Dochartaigh for further information