More Valuable Than Gold: 3 Reasons to Develop a Groundwater Protection Plan
A crucial natural resource, vital to human health and the wellness of the natural environment, and essential to the running of the economy, groundwater needs to be protected to ensure it remains clean and available.
While the mining industry has historically affected the surrounding environments of its projects, improvements in technology and developments in management techniques mean that the many negative repercussions of human activities (including mining) are now preventable or can, at the very least, be minimized.
These days, the mining industry is continuously advancing attempts to decrease the environmental impact of mining and reduce the trail of their projects throughout the mining cycle, including working to rebuild ecosystems post-mining. The same goes for companies in general, especially industries that produce substantial waste that can potentially contaminate groundwater.
This is where a groundwater protection plan (GPP) comes in. It states the activities being conducted at your site that have the potential to contaminate groundwater, and asserts the practices your firm will utilize to prevent groundwater pollution.
Here are three reasons why your establishment ought to develop a groundwater protection plan.
1. Groundwater is necessary for survival
Let’s start with the most obvious reason, groundwater needs to be protected for the health and wellness, and actually the very survival of every living organism on Earth.
There is no denying that groundwater is a critical natural and economic resource for everyone. It is our most valuable source of drinking water, in addition to being an integral part of the hydrologic cycle and, therefore, is vital for fish, wildlife, and vegetation.
Everyone depends on groundwater — from farmers who utilize it for animal husbandry and crop irrigation, to people in both rural and urban settings dependent on groundwater sources for their community wells and public water supplies, to commercial entities and industries — it is a precious resource and commodity. Other sectors rely on clean groundwater for the production of electrical power, material production, food, and beverages.
Furthermore, groundwater is crucial to the environment as it contributes to springs, and much of the water in our world’s ponds, swamps, rivers, marshland, streams and bays.
As most groundwater contamination is the result of human activity, it is essential that those involved in mining, construction, building dams, fracking/hydrofracturing and similar industries are diligent and forward-thinking about the ways and means to reduce (and ultimately diminish) groundwater contamination.
Developing a groundwater protection plan is a way to ensure that everyone in your company is on the same page, and stays on track with your environmental goals throughout the course of your projects.
2. The Groundwater Protection Plan – GPP is (most likely) legally required
Most countries have comprehensive environmental regulations intended for each type of industry, mining included. To comply with existing laws and guarantee that the quality of the water leaving your mine site is not negatively affecting water users downstream, you must produce a groundwater protection plan to decrease the potential for water contamination, and to restrict the discharge of polluted water into the environment.
Having a written plan ensures you have a program for monitoring the surrounding surface and groundwater quality, and are committed to a number of treatment processes that can be used to ensure that your mine water is meeting regulatory standards prior to being discharged.
3. Sustainability efforts are good for business
If you own or work for a construction company, you may have noticed a burgeoning pressure from stakeholders, such as investors and supply chain partners, to show evidence of sustainability efforts.
Proper attention and consideration for the environment is one of the requisite components of any smart business strategy. Due to the escalating level of awareness surrounding environmental issues the planet is facing, not just in the mining business, it is even more critical today than ever before.
Having a thorough groundwater protection plan is essential for proving to stakeholders and the general public that you are seriously taking into account the environmental damage your project could cause.
Before finalizing your firm’s groundwater protection plan, you will have to spend time discussing it with other members of the team in the process of reviewing or refining your environmental strategy.
This strategy should be based on an environmental policy built on a foundation of compliance with the legal, regulatory, and consent requirements of the countries and localities in which you will operate. You want it to strike a balance between your society’s need for metals and an environmentally sound approach to operations.
During these brainstorming meetings, you want to ensure that your company’s environmental policy dictates that its operations go beyond merely meeting current regulatory standards.
Exemplify current industry best practices
Your activities must exemplify current industry best practices for the minimization and, where feasible, elimination of adverse environmental effects. Ideally, consider including an investment in inflatable packers, which are considered environment-friendly tools, in your policy.
Your firm can do this by:
=> Including ecological matters as part of your short- and long-range planning for all projects and operations;
=> Complying with all relevant environmental regulations, laws, and guidelines, and ensuring that your contractors do as well;
=> Engaging in the advancement of environmental legislation;
=> Supporting and, where possible, implementing new or more efficient practices for environmental security, compliance, and emergency response; and
=> Taking practical actions to guarantee that your firm’s operations are receptive to the environmental needs of the communities in which you are operating. For example, grouting packers are specified on many pressure-grouting jobs to provide a superior seal against grout bleed.
When it comes to the techniques for water contamination control, a combination of different strategies can be applied, as these approaches will often be site-specific. For example, the interference and deviation of surface water is a more obvious concern in environments with high rates of rainfall, whereas more importance is placed on water recycling in arid areas with little water availability.
With more information regarding the importance of groundwater protection plans, you and your establishment are better equipped to refine and improve corporate environmental policies, comply with environmental laws and regulations, and scrutinize your current industrial practices to better protect groundwater, and the rest of the environment.
AUTHOR BIO: Dave Baca is the General Manager at Aardvark Packers LLC, overseeing day-to-day operations as well as sales, marketing, purchasing and work order manipulation. He received his machinist degree in 1989 and excels at design on AutoCAD, transforming designs into the packer systems requested by clients.