Groundwater is a major natural resource and supplies up to one third of Ireland's drinking water. Public water supplies in some counties come entirely from groundwater, and some counties rely mainly on surface water. Two thirds of Group Water Schemes use wells and springs. In rural areas not served by Public or Group Water Schemes, groundwater is usually the only source of supply and there are more than 100,000 private wells and springs in use. With such a large proportion of the country relying on groundwater it is essential that this resource is properly protected. This can be achieved through appropriate land use planning and practice.