Groundwater monitoring in Denmark: characteristics, perspectives and comparison with other countries

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More than 99% of water use in Denmark is based on groundwater. Denmark has had a comprehensive national groundwater-monitoring programme since 1988 based on 74 well catchment areas and six small agricultural catchments with more than 1,500 screens at different depths for regular, mostly annual, water quality sampling. In addition, water samples from 10,000 abstraction wells are analysed every 3-5 years. The water is analysed for main components, inorganic trace elements, organic micro pollutants, and pesticides and their metabolites. A unique feature is the 20-year time-series data of inorganic pollutants. Groundwater modelling supports traditional monitoring to improve the conceptual geological understanding and to assess the quantitative status and the interaction between groundwater and surface water. The programme has been continuously adjusted to incorporate new knowledge from research programmes and meet new policy demands, currently the European Union Water Framework Directive, particularly with respect to an increased focus on quantitative aspects and on the groundwater/surface water interaction. The strengths and weaknesses of the Danish programme are assessed and compared with other national groundwater-monitoring programmes. Issues discussed include: strategic considerations for monitoring design, the link between research and monitoring, and adoption of responses to climate changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-842
Number of pages16
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Denmark
  • EU water framework directive
  • Groundwater development
  • Groundwater monitoring
  • Groundwater quality

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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