Management of coastal palaeowaters
E. Custodio, W. M. Edmunds, Y. Travi, 2001. "Management of coastal palaeowaters", Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: Evolution of Groundwater since the Late Pleistocene, W. M. Edmunds, C. J. Milne
Download citation file:
Coastal regions of Europe have special water supply problems due to the population pressure, competing demands and the ever-present risk of saline intrusion from modern and old sea water. This is especially the case in southern Europe where touristic demands exacerbate water supplies, often in semi-arid regions. Palaeowaters emplaced at times of lowered sea level offer potential high-quality, high-value reserves in many areas, although a lack of understanding of the nature of the resource, together with exploitation for non-drinking purposes and indiscriminate drilling, may already have damaged the underground reservoirs and the reserves within them. These aquifers may, however, offer sites that are attractive for seasonal water storage.
Palaeowaters generally are of high quality and are demonstrably free of human impacts. Good drilling practice and operation are required to avoid contamination, the mixing of palaeowaters with more saline waters and avoidance of marine intrusion. Two case studies illustrating the management practice in areas containing palaeowaters – in the French Mediterranean coast and the Llobregat Delta area of Catalonia, Spain – are given. These demonstrate, above all, the need for integrated development, observation and planning, which involves all the stakeholders, especially the beneficiaries and end-users. There is a need for improved regulation for the protection, use and management of aquifers containing palaeowaters at both the national and European scale, to consider the intrinsic value of uncontaminated palaeowaters as a unique, non-renewable source of drinking water. The value of such aquifers for subsequent freshwater storage and also for use as a brackish water source for desalination may also be considered.
Figures & Tables
Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe contains 17 contributions from an international array of authors. They discuss the history of groundwater evolution during the late Pleistocene in the coastal areas of Europe from the Baltic region to the Iberian peninsula and the Canary Islands. Geochemical and geophysical techniques for evaluating palaeowaters are reviewed. The focus of the book is on changes in the hydrogeological regime during the Quaternary and their impacts on groundwater movement and chemistry in European coastal aquifers.
The work summarized in the papers was carried out by a partnership of European scientists under the auspices of the PALAEAUX project, an EC initiative. Researchers from the fields of hydrogeology, geochemistry, isotope hydrology and Quaternary studies attempted to reconstruct the most probable movement of groundwater in the study area over the past 100 000 years and its response to climatic events of global significance during the last glacial cycle. The results of this work, summarized in this volume, allow a better understanding of the water resources found at and near the coastlines of northern and western Europe. During times of lowered sea level, it appears that groundwaters were replenished to depths greater than occur at the present day. These pristine freshwater reserves are an irreplaceable asset. Their location at coastlines where populations and water demands are high and often seasonal means that they need careful management to avoid over-exploitation or contamination. The inevitable conflicts that this resource management creates are discussed.
Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: evolution of groundwater since the late Pleistocene will be of interest to Quarternary scientists, hydrogeologists, marine scientists engaged in coastal research and those involved in environmental science and the management of groundwater assests.