Groundwater vulnerability and protection in County Tipperary (South Riding), Ireland
The aim of the project was to determine the extent and quality of the groundwater in Tipperary South Riding with a view to developing a groundwater protection plan which would allow the Local Authority to manage, protect and develop the groundwater as efficiently as possible. The geology of the area varies with topography. The low-lying areas of the county comprise mainly Carboniferous limestones while the elevated regions consist of sandstones and shales of Upper Carboniferous, Devonian and Silurian ages. Deformation of these rocks decreases in magnitude moving northwards over the area; the Southern Synclines having suffered the effects of the Hercynian orogeny and the northern region exhibiting Caledonian orogenic trends. Quaternary (subsoil) deposits are found throughout the area and are of variable thickness and permeability. Till is the most widespread deposit with discontinuous pockets of sand and gravel in various proportions, and some marl, alluvium and peat in places. The principal aquifers of the area are the Kiltorcan sandstone formation and various limestone units within the Carboniferous succession. 50 % of south Tipperary constitutes either regionally or locally important aquifers. Secondary permeabilities created by structural deformation, dolomitisation, karstification and weathering processes create high transmissivities and often have large well yields. Specific baseflow analysis highlighted the complexity of the aquifers and proved that the lower part of the Suir river system is a major groundwater resource region. The hydrochemistry and water quality of the local authority groundwater sources was examined briefly. The majority of south Tipperary is underlain by limestone or Quaternary deposits derived from limestone and, consequently, calcium/magnesium bicarbonate waters predominate. The quality of the groundwater in south Tipperary demonstrates that the main concern originates from the presence of E.coli, and Total coliforms. The primary sources of contamination are from farmyard wastes and septic tanks. The vulnerability of groundwater to diffuse and point sources of pollution has been found to be dependent on the overlying soil, subsoil and the thickness of the unsaturated zone. A conceptual rather than quantitative approach is used and it is found that approximately 60% of south Tipperary is designated as being extremely or highly vulnerable. The groundwater protection plan was devised subsequent to an understanding of the aquifer systems, an assessment of the vulnerability, and a review of the Irish planning system and environmental law. It is recommended that the plan be integrated into the county development plan for legislative purposes. A series of acceptability matrices were devised to restrict potentially polluting activities in vulnerable areas while maintaining a balance between protection of the groundwater resource and the need to site essential developments.
- Theses - Science ITS 
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