River Tees adjacent to a groundwater sampling point, Darlington

Water quality is of considerable importance to protecting ecosystems, maintaining amenities and safeguarding health. Water-quality monitoring is an essential part of environmental and ecosystem protection and water supply, including for drinking water.

Monitoring is also a requirement of numerous pieces of national and European legislation aimed at environmental protection. Examples include the Water Framework Directive, Groundwater Directive, Drinking-Water Directive and Nitrates Directive.

Investigation of water quality is a central part of BGS activities. We have a long history of research into the inorganic and organic chemistry of streamwaters and groundwaters, both across the UK and overseas. Investigations include:

  • establishment of the natural baseline conditions of surface water and groundwater bodies
  • investigations of inputs of diffuse pollutants
  • point-source pollution
  • investigations of drinking-water quality
  • relations between drinking-water quality and health

Selected research

Bottled waters from the British IslesBottled water from the British Isles

What is the trace element content of bottled water in your local supermarket? How does it vary? How does it compare with in-situ groundwater from the same sources?

Drinking water flowing from a tap, istockphoto.com © Michael BodmannSurvey of trace elements in drinking water

Assessing the occurrence of non-regulated trace elements in drinking water for public supply in England and Wales.