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Turbidity and nitrate transfer in karstic aquifers in rural areas: The Brionne Basin case-study

Nebbache, S., Feeny, V., Durance, Isabelle and Alard, D. 2001. Turbidity and nitrate transfer in karstic aquifers in rural areas: The Brionne Basin case-study. Journal of Environmental Management 62 (4) , pp. 389-398. 10.1006/jema.2001.0444

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Abstract

The degradation of water quality in many groundwaters of Europe is a major source of concern. Rises in turbidity and nitrate concentrations represent present or potential threats for the quality of drinking water in rural areas. They are for the most part a consequence of agricultural intensification which has considerably affected land cover and land use in recent decades. In our case-study (a karstic catchment) the mechanisms which explain changes in water quality, as far as turbidity and nitrate are concerned, result from a strong continuity between surface and underground waters. The karstic system of the Brionne Basin can be considered as both the focus of rapid horizontal flows (runoff, a rapid process in which rainwater reaches the spring directly through sinkholes) and slow vertical flows (leaching, in which rainwater filters through the soil to the spring). A hierarchical approach to the water pollution problem of the basin suggests that turbidity or nitrate concentrations peak during heavy rain episodes and are short-term events. In terms of management, this implies that the solution to water pollution caused by such events is also short-term and can therefore be addressed at a local scale. The rise of nitrate concentrations during the past twenty years is the main concern. The solution can only be found at a global scale (all the catchment area must be taken in account: land plots and their spatial configuration), and by taking a long-term approach.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: agriculture, water quality, nitrate, turbidity, hierarchical approach, landscape, Normandy.
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0301-4797
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 07:56
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/70048

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