Hydrogeology is a branch of geology that involves the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth’s crust. Groundwater accounts for about 30% of global fresh water, which means it plays a vital role in the water cycle, as well as providing a large proportion of our drinking and industrial water supply. Hydrogeologists examine things such as how water gets into the ground, how it flows in the subsurface through aquifers and how it interacts with the surrounding soil and rock.
RSK’s hydrogeologists provide a range of groundwater-related services, including resource management, environmental protection and regulatory compliance. Our companies are staffed with technical experts who have decades of investigative and regulatory experience and have worked around the globe on projects for the water and energy, defence, commercial and industrial sectors.
This vital offshoot of geology is essential for solving several major issues facing humanity, such as maintaining a sustainable water supply, the production of food and energy, environmental protection and averting climate disaster. Our hydrogeologists collaborate with the rest of the RSK group to offer wide-ranging and proficient services to farmers, big businesses, scientific institutes, policymakers and regulators.
A unified approach
RSK has several companies within the group that provide hydrogeological services, including Binnies, WRc, RSK Geosciences, Ecologia, RemedX, Ground Heat, Geocore, RSK RAW, RSK GCS in South Africa and several of RSK’s European businesses (in Austria, Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands and Ireland), plus a number of companies who provide supporting services, such as drilling, well installation, borehole logging and groundwater sampling and testing. Together, our in-house experts operate across a range of sectors and geographic locations, using their decades of experience in their respective fields to provide clients with holistic solutions for their groundwater needs. As a part of the RSK group, our specialists can access expertise and services across the whole company to provide highly specialised hydrogeology services.
Our companies are active in the water sector beyond hydrogeology, meaning that we can draw on a wide range of expertise for any additional concerns.
Our clients include a diverse mix of renewable energy developers, planners, local authorities, regulators and private-sector businesses. Depending on the project, they may be seeking to gain planning and regulatory consent; to comply with relevant licences and planning conditions; to determine environmental conditions before undertaking major projects; or to understand any liabilities that may arise from groundwater conditions. Any unidentified challenges may eventually lead to costly project delays or additional requirements.
To help clients to achieve their goals and avoid any such delays, we have developed our capability to enable us to provide highly concentrated services covering all aspects, from initial feasibility and desk studies through to design, installation and monitoring and extending to contamination assessment, conceptualisation, detailed quantitative risk assessment and remediation services.
Critical supply services
We know that the water supply is critical to a myriad commercial, industrial and domestic purposes. RSK has the capacity and capability to provide extensive hydrogeology services throughout the lifespan of such projects. Our teams are experienced in groundwater monitoring and sampling using a range of techniques and samples can be sent to RSK’s in-house UKAS- and MCERTS-accredited laboratories for testing, eliminating the need to source multiple contractors. Our solutions can include a tailored package of full stakeholder engagement throughout, including determining regulatory approval timescales for licences and permits.
Furthermore, our ecologists and hydrogeologists routinely work together to identify areas of potentially groundwater-dependent terrestrial ecosystems and to assess the underlying hydrogeological regime to determine its dependency on groundwater. Our teams can remediate groundwater contamination resulting from spillages or historical issues.
Owing to RSK’s multidisciplinary nature, the company can provide tailored, bespoke solutions that package together several services, such as ecology and hydrogeology, minimising the need for our clients to hire several contractors for one particular aspect of a project. We have the expertise and connections to undertake projects across all sectors. Our global presence, which is particularly strong in the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, enables us to respond quickly to provide advice and assistance when unforeseen circumstances arise.
RSK provides a range of services throughout the lifespan of a project for the construction and management of water supply boreholes for commercial, industrial or domestic purposes. Services include an initial feasibility assessment, borehole drilling and installation, water quality testing and regulatory compliance. We conduct an initial desk-based assessment of local conditions to determine suitable borehole locations, likely supply volumes and expected water quality. RSK’s experienced in-house drilling teams drill and install water wells and test to determine their ability to supply the required volume of water.
Environmental impact assessments
RSK has extensive experience in undertaking environmental impact and risk assessments of the water environment, including areas where surface water and groundwater interact, for a range of projects across Asia, the UK and mainland Europe. This includes the consideration of groundwater flow paths and groundwater catchments, which can be completely different from their surface-water equivalents. One example is groundwater-dependent terrestrial ecosystems (GWDTE), which are wetlands that depend on groundwater flow and groundwater chemistry to maintain their particular habitats. They are sensitive to changes in their water supply and are required to be identified, assessed and protected as part of any new development in the UK. RSK’s ecologists and hydrogeologists are experienced in identifying areas of potential GWDTE, assessing the underlying hydrogeological regime to determine the dependency of identified areas on groundwater and designing bespoke solutions to mitigate any potential negative impacts.
Groundwater contamination and remediation
Groundwater contamination may occur because of accidental discharges; historical land-uses, including industrial activities, landfills or mining; or the migration of contamination from off-site sources. We are experienced in determining levels of groundwater contamination and carrying out qualitative and quantitative risk assessments against relevant water quality standards to determine the risks posed to drinking water, human health and the wider environment. RSK has experience in remediating groundwater contamination using a wide range of techniques. In-house specialisms include mobile treatment plants, the design and build of bespoke water treatment systems, permeable reactive barriers, thermal treatment and monitored natural attenuation.
RSK’s experienced staff has been collecting groundwater samples and monitoring groundwater levels and chemistry using a wide range of techniques, for decades. We can conduct manual and automated level and chemistry measurements using data loggers and have the skills required to interpret the data accurately. A range of techniques and equipment can be used to collect representative groundwater samples dependent on individual site conditions. Our in-house UKAS- and MCERTS-accredited laboratory can test the groundwater samples against a wide range of parameters and standard testing suites.
Aquifer characterisation and hydrogeological testing
RSK’s in-house teams design and implement aquifer testing using techniques from small scale, fixed- and variable-head permeability testing to large scale pumping tests. We test in established boreholes or our in-house drilling teams can drill and install new boreholes if required. Our analysis of collected data uses industry-standard software packages to determine aquifer characteristics accurately.