Management and Surveillance

There are numerous laws and authorities that control and manage the use of groundwater in Norway. The Geological Survey of Norway is the water resources authority for well drilling and groundwater testing. In addition, under the Norwegian Water Resources Act, NGU works in collaboration with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) to conduct reference monitoring of groundwater to establish both quantitative and qualitative baseline values which are presented in net portal LGN (a nation-wide groundwater data service).
Sampling and field measurements at LGN-station Øverbygd in Målselv. Photo: Øystein Jæger, NGU.

Norway's most important sources for drinking water are the large and easily accessible resources of fresh surface water. Contrary to most other European countries, the use of groundwater for water supply in this country has been rather limited. This fact, combined with the extensive use of surface water in the generation of hydro-power, has resulted in the establishment of several water authorities in Norway. Consequently, public administration and management of water is governed by several laws and authorities.

Prøvetaking og feltmålinger på LGN-stasjon i Pasvikdalen. Foto: Øystein Jæger, NGU
Sampling and field measurements at LGN-station Øverbygd in Målselv. Photo: Øystein Jæger, NGU.

Following through on the EU's Water Framework Directive, which is complemented by Directive on Groundwater, Norway must manage its water resource in comprehensive and coordinated manner.  Leading the coordination of WFD in Norway is the Norwegian Environment Agency.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy oversees that Norway complies with the Water Resources Act. NVE has the responsibility  of implementing the Act and overseeing groundwater withdrawals and groundwater issues that may affect waterways. The Geological Survey of Norway has the responsibility to oversee well drilling and conduct groundwater studies, in accordance to the Water Resources Act (paragraph 4). NVE coordinates data and information related to hydrology in Norway, while NGU coordinates information about groundwater.

Other regulations and agencies that assist in managing groundwater in Norway are the Pollution Control act, administered by the Norwegian Environment Agency and The Food Safety Act which is managed by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.


Groundwater is an important resource for water supply and other uses. Even though groundwater is relatively well protected, this resource can be affected by both natural processes and anthropogenic activities. For instance, groundwater may be affected by:

  • Weathering and dissolution of minerals in sediments and rocks
  • Precipitation containing long-transported pollutants infiltrating to groundwater
  • Effects resulting from seasonal variation and long-term changes in climate
  • Physical interference such as regulation of water courses, extraction of groundwater and subsurface constructions
  • Pollution resulting from settlement, transport, agriculture, industry etc.

Today, Norway has two national programmes dedicated to monitoring ground water: Nation-wide Groundwater Monitoring Network  (LGN), The Norwegian Agricultural Environmental Monitoring Programme  (JOVA).

LGN was established in 1977 to provide data about the natural variation in groundwater levels, temperature and chemical quality throughout Norway, in coordination with NVE, who is responsible for gathering data on the water temperature and water level. Data collected through this surveillance monitoring can be used for a variety of other  activities, including assessing risk of flood and drought, and hydropower generation. NGU is responsible for the monitoring of groundwater chemistry and, among other things, contributes to the baseline monitoring for the EU's Water Framework Directive.

It is the responsibility of all well owners to regularly conduct water quantity and to survey water levels.  More information about advice on maintenance and quality control are the following NGU publication GiN-veileder nr.: 13.

Links (in Norwegian):