Every month SGU publishes an overview of the groundwater situation in Sweden. It shows in map form how groundwater levels compare with normal levels for the time of year.
Water is one of our most important natural resources and our most important food.
The water on our planet circulates in a continuous cycle. It evaporates from lakes and seas as water vapour, and later falls as rain and snow. Some of this water is taken up by plant roots and transpired by the plants. The rest percolates down to greater depths and becomes groundwater, which slowly moves through superficial deposits and bedrock before finally discharging into lakes, rivers and seas again.
Groundwater is the water that is to be found where the pore spaces in soils and fractures in rocks are completely filled with water.

Good conditions for groundwater

Sweden’s climate and geology, and above all the country’s many sand and gravel deposits, for example in the form of eskers, offer favourable conditions for a good supply of clean and easily abstracted groundwater. Almost half of our drinking water is supplied from groundwater or ‘artificial groundwater’, i.e. water from lakes and rivers that has been filtered through gravel deposits.

Planning for good-quality drinking water

In many parts of the world, water is hard to come by, and even the ample supplies which Sweden currently enjoys cannot be taken for granted in the future. Quarrying of natural gravel increases the vulnerability of groundwater resources, emissions of hazardous substances can contaminate them, excessive withdrawals of water in coastal areas may result in salt-water intrusion, and construction and transport can affect groundwater in sensitive areas – to mention just some of the potential threats.
To be able to plan for a sustainable supply of drinking water, we therefore need knowledge and information about where large quantities of water can safely be abstracted; where lake water can be artificially infiltrated into an esker, for example, to treat it by natural means; where water can be obtained if a regular source is somehow rendered unfit for use; how water flows through the ground; and how groundwater levels vary over the course of the year.

Environmental quality objective and the Water Framework Directive

SGU is responsible for the national environmental quality objective Good-Quality Groundwater, which is about ensuring that future generations, too, have access to groundwater that provides a safe and sustainable supply of drinking water and contributes to viable habitats for flora and fauna in lakes and watercourses. Efforts to achieve this objective are closely linked to implementation of the EU’s Water Framework Directive and Groundwater Directive, for which information from SGU provides important support.

Geological information for groundwater management

Physical planning is one of the key strategic tools for safeguarding current and future supplies of water. A water supply plan provides a basis for licensing decisions, supervision and inspection, for example, and can also guide the establishment of new operations and land uses. Information from SGU is an important input into such plans, and into decisions relating to wells and boreholes for water supply and heat pump purposes.