2.8. Iceland

2.8.1. Characteristics of Groundwater

In Iceland groundwater resources are situated in two main areas. In late Quaternary hyaloclastites and basaltic lavas there are 40,000 km² high permeable and deep aquifers, an area that represents 35 % of the national area. The other aquifers are more superficial and low permeable and lie in Tertiary and early Quaternary basaltic lavas. The extent of them are about 60,000 km² about 45% of the national area.

The potential water resources come from precipitation with 200,000 mio m³/year and groundwater resources of 30,000 mio m³/year. The evapo-transpiration rate is 25,000 mio m³/year. The majority of the water resources is consumed in households (80 mio m³/year), for agricultural activities (70 mio m³/year) and finally for industrial procedures ( 10 mio m³/year). Only for domestic consumption it is possible to determine the percentages of the consumed water. About 62 % are taken from the Quaternary aquifers and 32 % from springs.

2.8.2. Structure of the Administrative Organisations Concerning Groundwater Quality

The Drinking Water Announcement is the legal basis for the monitoring of groundwater in order to supply people with good drinking water. Local municipal health bodies are responsible for the implementation of the Drinking Water Announcement and for the quality monitoring. Their activities are done under the supervision of the Environment and Food Agency. The monitoring network is an instrument that helps to ensure the quality standards of water taken for human consumption.

2.8.3. Monitoring of Groundwater Quality

No information is available on this aspect at the present time.

2.8.4. Structure of the Administrative Organisations Concerning Groundwater Quantity

In Iceland groundwater quantity monitoring is done without having a special national monitoring programme, consequently the national coverage of the networks is incomplete. The NEA (National Environment Authority), a governmental organisation is mainly responsible for groundwater monitoring and energy matters. The NEA’s Hydrological Service supervises the monitoring measurements. The countrywide water gauging networks of different National Power Companies (NPCs) or Public Water Works are connected with the Hydrological Service. The NPCs are semi-governmental co-operations which produce electricity for Iceland. Most of the electric energy is taken from hydropower plants. The exploitation of groundwater is assessed by local public water works with a wide spectrum of methods (from rough estimates to exact gauging). The main tasks of the monitoring activities are basic data collection, research work, the management of water supply for power plants.

2.8.5. Monitoring of Groundwater Quantity

Groundwater quantity monitoring is split in many local and regional networks, mostly co-ordinated by energy co-operations. At this stage no detailed information about total number of sampling sites could be given. Most of them are situated in drinking water wells, collecting data of groundwater level, temperature and conductivity for special programmes. Spring observation points measure discharge, water temperature and conductivity. The data collected are stored in ORACLE database using GIS.

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