Groundwater in Ireland is protected under European Community and national legislation. Local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have responsibility for enforcing this legislation. The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Local Government (DoELG) and the EPA have developed a methodology for the preparation of groundwater protection schemes to assist the statutory authorities and others to meet their responsibility to protect groundwater (DoELG/EPA/GSI, 1999). This methodology incorporates land surface zoning and groundwater protection responses.
These groundwater protection responses are concerned with the site selection process for landfills and the associated design, operation and monitoring of landfill sites. These responses outline the likely acceptability of landfills in each groundwater protection zone (as described in Groundwater Protection Schemes (DoELG/EPA/GSI, 1999)) and the recommended level of response/restriction, which depends on the groundwater vulnerability, the value of the groundwater and the contaminant loading.
Guidance presented in these responses should be used to assist in the selection, design and management of landfill sites, and is based on the precautionary principle. The concept of risk management should be used in the decision making process for the selection of new landfill sites.