The Polish Hydrogeological Survey (PHS) was established based on the Water Law Act of 18 July 2001 (Journal of Laws 2001 N.115 item 1229). The Water Law Act implements the provisions of EU Directives regulating matters connected with water management and protection of waters against hazards, including Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, Directive 2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration and Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. Pursuant to Article 373 of the Water Law Act, the functions of the Polish Hydrogeological Survey are performed by the Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute.
The aim of the Polish Hydrogeological Survey (PHS) is to provide effective quantitative and qualitative protection of groundwaters designated primarily for consumption and maintaining appropriate groundwater management, which provide the foundation of the water supply for about 70% of the Polish population. Systematically performed observations, studies, analyses and forecasts, as well as dissemination of knowledge and information on the state of and hazards concerning groundwater resources are consistent with the provisions of the sustainable development policy in Poland. The results of the works make it possible to perform actions involved with groundwater exploration and identification, in accordance with the definition designated in Geological and Mining Law.
The most significant tasks performed by the Polish Hydrogeological Survey include:
- Measurements, observations and hydrogeological studies in the groundwater monitoring network, which comprises over 1180 research points,
- Groundwater monitoring in the border zones of Poland, including assessment of the directions of groundwater flow in cross-border areas,
- Accumulation, processing and archiving of information on hydrogeological conditions, quantity of resources and groundwater condition and making the information available (keeping and updating hydrogeological databases),
- Studying and documenting Major Groundwater Reservoirs in order to establish their protection areas and to implement action programmes which prevent their degradation,Coordinating, supervising and creating serial digital hydrogeological maps,
- Groundwater condition assessments as regards quality and quantity,
- Regular analyses and assessments of hydrogeological conditions, including announcements on current hydrogeological conditions and forecasts regarding changes in the quantity of resources, the condition and hazards of groundwaters,
- Developing and publishing informational and educational materials, including the Groundwater Quarterly Informational Bulletin and the Hydrogeological Annual Report,
- Operation of a team for studies on the extent of contamination arising from incidents, accidents or disasters.
A significant aspect of the activity of the Polish Hydrogeological Survey involves raising the awareness of the public in the area of groundwater use. Consumers do not tend to think about the origin of the water they drink and they are often unaware that it comes from “invisible” groundwaters, the quantity of which exceeds that of “visible” surface waters several dozen times. The objective of activities undertaken by the PHS is the conscious use of groundwaters in a way which does not degrade the resources. Groundwater, pursuant to the provision of the preamble to the Water Framework Directive, is a part of our heritage which can be used but must be protected and left to future generations.