Monitoring and methods to analyse the groundwater quality degradation risk in coastal karstic aquifers (Apulia, Southern Italy)
A multi-methodological approach based on monitoring and spatio-temporal analysis of groundwater quality changes is proposed. The presented tools are simple, quick and cost-effective to give service to all sorts of users. The chief purpose of the monitoring network is the detection of the piezometric or potenziometric level in the aquifer. The spatial and multi-temporal analysis of usual chemical and physical data provides both an assessment of the spatial vulnerability of the aquifer to seawater intrusion, defining a salinity threshold between fresh groundwater and brackish groundwater and of the water quality trend in terms of salinity. The evaluation of the salinity trend or of salinity-correlated parameters highlights the effects of groundwater mismanagement. The multiparameter logging provides a rapid groundwater quality classification for each well. The whole approach allows evaluating the effects of current management criteria and designing more appropriate management targets. The Apulian karstic coastal aquifers have been selected as a case study (Southern Italy). Three types of aquifer zones can be distinguished: (1) areas with low vulnerability to seawater intrusion, (2) areas with high vulnerability and (3) areas with variable vulnerability in which the salt degradation largely depends on the ability to manage the well discharge. The water quality degradation caused by seawater intrusion appears to be a combined effect of an anomalous succession of drought periods observed from about 1980 onwards and increased groundwater pumping, particularly during drought periods. A management criterion based on aquifer zones is proposed.