Hydrogeology | Borehole notification requirements

Notification of intent to construct new wells and boreholes for water in England and Wales and the subsequent provision of information — Water Resources Act 1991

Included within the Water Resources Act 1991 are the provisions of section 7 of the Water Act 1945 and certain subsequent legislation dealing with regulations concerning underground water. Section 198 requires that: (a) the Natural Environment Research Council be notified of the intention to sink new wells and boreholes for water to a depth of 50 feet (15 metres) or more in England and Wales; (b) that journals be kept of the programme of work, including measurements of any water levels and flow rates; (c) that these journals together with details of water levels and yields be provided to the Council at the following address:

Records Section
Hydrogeology
British Geological Survey
Maclean Building
Wallingford
OX10 8BB

Tel: (01491) 838800
Fax: (01491) 692345
E-mail: hydroenq@bgs.ac.uk

Section 205 of the Act provides for such information supplied under section 198 to be furnished in confidence if so required.

The Natural Environment Research Council is confident that it can count upon the full and willing co-operation of all concerned, and this notice has been prepared for the guidance of contractors and others. Sections 198 and 205 of the Water Resources Act 1991 are reproduced, and notes on the arrangements for the receipt of information are appended.

NOTES ON THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE RECEIPT OF INFORMATION
  1. Operations to which the Act applies

The Act applies to all of the following operations if carried out for the purpose of searching for or abstracting water. Observation or monitoring boreholes are also deemed to be for these purposes.

  1. The sinking of a new well or borehole intended to reach a depth of more than 15 metres (50 feet) from the ground surface.
  2. The deepening of an existing well or borehole of less than 15 metres in depth, so as to reach a depth of more than 15 metres from the ground surface.
  3. The deepening of any existing well or borehole of 15 metres or more in depth.
  4. The sinking from headings of a new well or borehole, intended to reach a depth of more than 15 metres below the ground surface.
  1. Duties of persons sinking wells and boreholes for water

The person responsible for the actual sinking of a well or borehole(normally the contracted well-sinker or driller) must take the following steps:

  1. Notify the Council before operations are begun. This may be done by sending a Notification of Intent card to the address given above. Notification will also be welcomed of other borings, sinkings and work not specified under Section 198(1) as may be expected to yield results of interest to the Council.
  2. Keep a daily record (journal) of the operations. Such a journal should include all the details given on a Well Record Form plus, where practicable, measurements of water-levels during test pumping at recorded time intervals; a drawing or tracing preferably from a six-inch or 1:10 000 Ordnance Survey map, showing the precise site of the well, and a copy of any analysis of the water.
  3. On the completion or abandonment of the work, send to the British Geological Survey, at the address given above, a copy of the completed record.

Copies of Notification of Intent cards and of Well Record Forms are provided free of charge on request to the address given above.

The person sinking the well or borehole should notify the British Geological Survey in writing if he desires that the information supplied should be treated as confidential as provided under section 205 of the Water Resources Act 1991. Any officer of the Natural Environment Research Council visiting wells or boreholes should similarly be warned if it is desired that any such information should be kept confidential

  1. Rights of access of the Natural Environment Research Council to wells and boreholes for water

Under the Act free access to journals of wells and boreholes for water, as well as to the workings. is given to officers of the Council and to any other officers whom the Council may appoint for this purpose. The officers of the Council may take copies of the journals, may inspect the cores and other materials removed from the wells and boreholes, and may take such representative specimens of rocks, fossils, minerals, etc., and samples of water, as may seem necessary or desirable for the purpose of the Council.

The officers of the Council will carry documents of identification sufficient to establish that they are authorised persons.

  1. General remarks

The information required in the completed journals is indicated on the Well Record Form. Save in exceptional cases, a completed form will be accepted by the British Geological Survey as discharging the obligation imposed by the Act to maintain and, on completion or abandonment of the work, to furnish to the Council a journal of the operations.

Present-day methods of boring do not produce cores from the majority of boreholes for water. Nevertheless, specimens obtained should be as good as possible, and their depths below the ground surface recorded as accurately as possible. Care should be given to the description of strata recorded in the journal.

Cores, when taken, should be laid out in regular order with marks at intervals showing depths of origin, and gaps in which the cores are absent or imperfect should be marked with an indication of the extent of the missing core and such fragmentary specimens as have been obtained at that depth should be retained in place.

Specimens of the material obtained in well sinking should be laid out in order, and those from each depth should be kept together. If any band encountered contains fossils, all materials from that band should be kept together as those fossils may furnish important evidence of the geological horizon penetrated in the sinking.

Any portions of cores or materials from well sinking or borings of special interest, or liable to disintegrate if exposed to rain and the action of the air, should receive special attention to ensure their preservation. Precautions should be taken to prevent disturbance by members of the public, or by cattle, sheep or other animals.

In cases of special interest, it may be desirable for repeated visits to be paid by the officers of the Council to a well or borehole under construction and it is requested that, when desired, notification of the progress of work and particularly of any unforeseen developments should be sent to the British Geological Survey to ensure that no valuable information should be lost. For this purpose it is hopedthat the active co-operation of the contractors undertaking the work will be extended to the officers of the Council.


WATER RESOURCES ACT 1991

SECTION 198
  1. Any person who, for the purpose of searching for or abstracting water, proposes to sink a well or borehole intended to reach a depth of more than fifty feet below the surface shall, before he begins to do so, give notice to the Natural Environment Research Council of his intention to do so.
  1. Any person sinking any such well or borehole as is mentioned in subsection (1) above shall:
    1. keep a journal of the progress of the work and, on completion or abandonment of the work, send a complete copy of the journal to the Natural Environment Research Council;
    2. sent to that Council particulars of any test made before completion or abandonment of the work of the flow of water;
    3. allow any person authorised by that Council for the purpose,on production of some duly authenticated document showing his authority, at all reasonable times to exercise any of the rights specified in subsection (5) below.
  1. The journal required to be kept under this section shall include measurements of:
    1. the strata passed through; and
    2. the levels at which water is struck and subsequently rests.
  1. The particulars shall be sent to the Natural Environment Research Council under subsection (2)(b) above shall specify:
    1. the rate of flow throughout the test;
    2. the duration of the test;
    3. where practicable, the water levels during the test and afterwards until the water returns to its natural level; and
    4. where the well or borehole is sunk in connection with an existing pumping station, the rate of pumping at the existing works during the test.
  1. The rights mentioned in subsection (2)(c) above are the rights subject to section 205 below:
    1. to have free access to the well or borehole;
    2. to inspect the well or borehole and the material extracted from it;
    3. to take specimens of any such material and of water abstracted from the well or borehole; and
    4. to inspect and take copies of or extracts from the journal required to be kept under this section.
  1. Where the person sinking a well or borehole on any land is not the occupier of the land, the obligation imposed on that person by virtue of subsection (2)(c) above shall be the obligation of that occupier as well.
  1. Where:
    1. any person contracts to sink any well or borehole on land belonging to or occupied by another; and
    2. the carrying out of the work is under the control of the contractor,

    the contractor and no other person shall be deemed for the purposes of this section to be the person sinking the well or borehole.

  1. Any person who fails to comply with any obligation imposed on him by this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction:
    1. to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale; and
    2. where the offence continues after conviction, to a further fine of £20 for every day during which it so continues.
SECTION 205
  1. The person sinking any such well or borehole as is mentioned in section 198 above or, if it is a different person, the owner or occupier of the land on which any such well or borehole is sunk may by notice to the Natural Environment Research Council require that Council to treat as confidential:
    1. any copy of or extract from the journal required to be kept under that section; or
    2. any specimen taken in exercise of the rights specified in subsection(5) of that section.
  1. Subject to subsections (3) and (4) below, the Natural Environment Research Council shall not, without the consent of the person giving the notice, allow any matter to which any notice under subsection (1) above relates to be published or shown to any person who is not an officer of that Council or of a department of the Secretary of State.
  1. Subsection (2) above shall not prohibit any matter from being published or shown to any person in so far as it contains or affords information as to water resources and supplies.
  1. If at any time the Natural Environment Research Council give notice to any person that in their opinion his consent for the purposes of subsection (2) above is being unreasonably withheld:
    1. that person may, within three months after the giving of the notice, appeal to the High Court for an order restraining that Council from acting as if consent had been given; and
    2. that Council may proceed as if consent had been given if either no such appeal is brought within that period or the High Court, after hearing the appeal, do not make such an order.
  1. Any person who fails to comply with any obligation imposed on him by the preceding provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction:
    1. to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale: and
    2. where the offence continues after conviction, to a further fine of £20 for every day during which it so continues.
  1. If any person who is admitted to any premises in compliance with section 198(2)(c) above discloses to any person any information obtained by him there with regard to any manufacturing process or trade secret, he shall, unless the disclosure is in performance of his duty, be guilty of an offence and liable:
    1. on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;
    2. on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment to a term not exceeding three months or to a fine or to both.

Issued by the National Geosciences Information Service, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, 1 June 1992. The British Geological Survey is a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council.