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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Apr 1;619-620:1214-1225. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.017. Epub 2017 Nov 29.

Integration of models of various types of aquifers for water quality management in the transboundary area of the Soča/Isonzo river basin (Slovenia/Italy).

Author information

1
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Natural Science and Engineering, Aškerčeva 12, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
2
Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU, Titov trg 2, SI-6230 Postojna, Slovenia; University of Nova Gorica, UNESCO Chair on Karst Education, Glavni trg 8, SI-5271 Vipava, Slovenia. Electronic address: natasa.ravbar@zrc-sazu.si.
3
Geologija d.o.o., Prešernova 2, SI-6250 Idrija, Slovenia.
4
University of Trieste, Department of Mathematics and Geosciences, Via Weiss 2, IT-34127 Trieste, Italy.
5
Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU, Titov trg 2, SI-6230 Postojna, Slovenia; University of Nova Gorica, UNESCO Chair on Karst Education, Glavni trg 8, SI-5271 Vipava, Slovenia.

Abstract

Due to intrinsic characteristics of aquifers groundwater frequently passes between various types of aquifers without hindrance. The complex connection of underground water paths enables flow regardless of administrative boundaries. This can cause problems in water resources management. Numerical modelling is an important tool for the understanding, interpretation and management of aquifers. Useful and reliable methods of numerical modelling differ with regard to the type of aquifer, but their connections in a single hydrodynamic model are rare. The purpose of this study was to connect different models into an integrated system that enables determination of water travel time from the point of contamination to water sources. The worst-case scenario is considered. The system was applied in the Soča/Isonzo basin, a transboundary river in Slovenia and Italy, where there is a complex contact of karst and intergranular aquifers and surface flows over bedrock with low permeability. Time cell models were first elaborated separately for individual hydrogeological units. These were the result of numerical hydrological modelling (intergranular aquifer and surface flow) or complex GIS analysis taking into account the vulnerability map and tracer tests results (karst aquifer). The obtained cellular models present the basis of a contamination early-warning system, since it allows an estimation when contaminants can be expected to appear, and in which water sources. The system proves that the contaminants spread rapidly through karst aquifers and via surface flows, and more slowly through intergranular aquifers. For this reason, karst water sources are more at risk from one-off contamination incidents, while water sources in intergranular aquifers are more at risk in cases of long-term contamination. The system that has been developed is the basis for a single system of protection, action and quality monitoring in the areas of complex aquifer systems within or on the borders of administrative units.

KEYWORDS:

Early warning system; FeFlow; GIS; Intergranular aquifer; Karst aquifer; Numerical modelling

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