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Suburbanisation of important aquifers in England and Wales: estimating its current extent

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The UK rate of conversion of rural into suburban land cover will increase as the UK population is projected to rise to 70 million by 2056, household size continues to decline and previously developed land becomes scarcer and less attractive. The resultant change in landuse will significantly impact underlying groundwater resources. Geographical information system (GIS) analysis is used to estimate the current extent of suburbanised land cover overlying locally and nationally important aquifers in England and Wales. The effect on groundwater catchments will be marked in southern, central and eastern England, where high groundwater dependence and intense pressure for new housing will inevitably lead to a rise in suburban land cover on periurban catchments that are currently rural land. Water resource planning implications would be better understood with more catchment-scale research. Meanwhile, areas of aquifer most likely to urbanise by 2050 and public supplies most vulnerable to the consequent changes need identifying.
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Keywords: British aquifers; groundwater; housing development; public water supply; suburban land use; urbanisation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: British Geological Survey, Wallingford, Oxon, UK

Publication date: 01 June 2008

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