Remediation booklets 5.
Groundwater and land use

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1. Water cycle
  • 2. Groundwater flow and groundwater types
    • 2.1. Flow systems, permeability
    • 2.2. Types of groundwater and groundwater storage
  • 3. The role of soils in the protection of groundwater quality
  • 4. Human activities endangering groundwaters
    • 4.1. Interventions into groundwaters
    • 4.2. Sensitivity and vulnerability of groundwaters
    • 4.3. Land uses and human activities endangering groundwaters
    • 4.4. Most common contaminants in groundwater
      • 4.4.1. Classification of the contaminants in groundwater
      • 4.4.2. Most common contaminants
  • 5. Epilogue
  • Bibliography
Note: The A0 size illustrative figure to the Remediation Booklet 5 (Groundwaters and land uses) of the National Environmental Remediation Program is available at the Green Shop of the Ministry for Environment and Water (Budapest, 1011 Fő u. 44-50).


The poster "Groundwaters and land uses" shows the water cycle and those natural processes, human activities, which have an influence on the quality and quantity of waters.

Processes and activities characteristically endangering groundwater are emphasised, but the connection between the functions of groundwater and soil, as well as the very important role soil is playing in groundwater protection are pointed out as well. Consequently it can be stated that the imperilment of soils in a wider sense also means great risk on groundwaters and that protection of groundwaters is not possible without the protection of soil.

Extending our knowledge on hazard points and hazardous activities enables an environment-focused thinking, and detailed knowledge of the causes forecasts possible solutions thus providing opportunity to unfold children’s or students creativity.

We recommend the following topics for detailed discussion to teachers applying this poster:

  • 1. Water cycle and influencing natural processes
  • 2. Groundwater flow and groundwater types
  • 3. How does soil influence groundwater quality
  • 4. Human activities influencing water cycle and the quality and quantity of groundwaters


We have an inevitable contact to our environment – and within it to groundwater – through the different ways of utilisation of natural resources and land and are thus interfering in its original status. Our increasing demands are not to be satisfied in harmony with natural conditions and to attain our goals we throw the ecosystem out of balance, interfere in natural processes and equilibria. But also in these cases it is necessary to know the risks of an activity and to provide for the artificial protection of the different environmental elements, like groundwater.

Consequently it can be stated that groundwater is simultaneously an environmental element in need of protection and an exploitable natural resource. Therefore in the case of interventions affecting groundwater we always have to consider the natural conditions of the given area, as well as its suitability for the utilisation in question.

Protection of groundwaters includes the conservation of the natural status of quantitative and qualitative characteristics. For this purpose the following tools can be used:

  • reduction of withdrawal, stabilisation of water balance in the areas of permanently decreasing water level and hydraulic head,
  • stopping of illegal water extractions, modification of water extraction permits according to circumstances,
  • survey, investigation and if needed elimination of pollution sources endangering groundwaters.
In addition to legislation (acts, decrees, directives) the decline in the utilisation of fertilizers, the closing of mines and the subsequent recultivation activities, as well as the significant decrease of water demand in the industrial sector contributes to the improvement of groundwater quality and quantity in Hungary.

Tools of prevention are the reduction of emissions, isolation of the contaminated area at risk, i. e. the prevention of potential contaminants getting into direct contact with the soil. Removal and/or cleaning of contaminated soil can also prevent contaminants getting into groundwater. The setting in of underground cutoff walls or the pumping out of groundwater and its subsequent cleaning on the surface are examples how to stop further spreading of polluted groundwater.

Effective damage prevention or reduction measures require adequate knowledge on contaminants, on their regional and local use, on accidents if there have been any, as well as on the characteristics, status and changes in the status of environmental elements. Databases and monitoring systems provide the relevant information for the modern way of environmental protection.

As shown by the above listed examples the only way to protect water as an environmental element is the observance of rules, the evolving of an approach focused on ecology and environment and the recognition of individual responsibility.