Evaluation of groundwater contamination and residence time in the aquifers from the higher plain

This WP addresses the nutrient dynamics in aquifers and it encompasses two different tasks. The results of the two tasks will be combined in a general picture, coupling the chronological information to the present status of groundwater contamination. This will allow to infer the residence time of nutrients in groundwater and to estimate the timing for groundwater recovery following the application of the EU Directives targeting the nutrient reduction.

The social impact of this topic is relevant: local water suppliers are already supporting high costs for the removal of nitrates from drinking water, and, in the future, the enhanced degradation of groundwater quality will likely determine even higher costs for purification. Any information about the expected contamination trends will be crucial to select the most appropriate and cost-effective purification techniques for drinking water. A survey of phosphate distribution has never been conducted, nor are the factors and agronomical practices controlling P retention and leaching known. As a consequence, although the problem is likely to worsen in the coming years, no indication on possible remedial actions is yet available. Groundwater dating will help to correlate changes in land use and management practices with changes in groundwater quality, providing indication on the time required for mitigation actions to become effective. In other words, the project results will assess the potential and the time frame for the natural remediation of the contaminated aquifer.

WP LEADER: Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Pavia (EES-UNIPV)

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