A pragmatic groundwater risk assessment for groundwater protection and urban development planning purposes is described for the city of Bishkek, capital of Kyrghyzstan. The city is 100% aquifer dependent for potable, domestic, commercial and industrial water supplies which are provided by both intraurban and periurban wellfields. The urban groundwater setting is hydrogeologically complex, with a laterally heterogeneous multi-aquifer system tapped by urban wells at widely different depths. The coarse alluvial and fluvio-glacial deposits comprising the aquifers have high
transmissivities and significant vertical permeabilities. The risk assessment needed to take account of the vulnerability of aquifers at significant depths of up to 150 m. Using simple GIS techniques and working with available data, a map showing areas of low, moderate and high vulnerability together with a plan of potentially hazardous activities was produced collaboratively by British Geological Survey and Kyrghyz Scientific and Research Institute for Irrigation teams. The interaction between these two themes has provided the groundwater resource-planning map. This is the key plan required for the second stage of this project, in which urban groundwater protection policies are evolved and guidelines developed for more general use.