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Publication Detail
The effects of irrigation on groundwater quality and quantity in a human-modified hydro-system: The Oglio River basin, Po Plain, northern Italy
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Article
  • Authors:
    Rotiroti M, Bonomi T, Sacchi E, McArthur JM, Stefania GA, Zanotti C, Taviani S, Patelli M, Nava V, Soler V, Fumagalli L, Leoni B
  • Publisher:
    Elsevier
  • Publication date:
    01/07/2019
  • Pagination:
    342, 356
  • Journal:
    Science of the Total Environment
  • Volume:
    672
  • Status:
    Accepted
  • Print ISSN:
    0048-9697
Abstract
© 2019 The Authors For several hundred years, farming in the Po Plain of Italy (46,000 km 2 , 20 million inhabitants) has been supported by intensive surface irrigation with lake and river water. Despite the longevity of irrigation, its effects on the quality and quantity of groundwater is poorly known and so is investigated here through seasonal measurements of hydraulic heads and water quality in groundwaters, rivers, lake, springs and rainwaters. In the north of the study region, an unconfined coarse-grained alluvial aquifer, infiltration of surface irrigation water, sourced from the Oglio River and low in NO 3 , contributes much to aquifer recharge (up to 88%, as evidenced by a δ 2 H-Cl/Br mixing model) and has positive effects on groundwater quality by diluting high concentrations of NO 3 (decrease by 17% between June and September). This recharge also helps to maintain numerous local springs that form important local micro-environments. Any increase in water-use efficiency in irrigation will reduce this recharge, imperil the spring environments, and lessen the dilution of NO 3 leading to increasing NO 3 concentrations in groundwater. These findings can be extended by analogy to the entire Po Plain region and other surface-water-irrigated systems worldwide where inefficient irrigation methods are used and similar hydrogeological features occur.
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