This study proposes a general methodology, applied in Switzerland, for the delineation of protection areas for abstracted groundwater against persistent chemical contaminants in order to establish: (1) remediation programmes in the event of contamination and (2) prevention programmes, in a general way.

This new approach is based on the complete groundwater flow cycle, from the surface of the catchment zone to the groundwater source itself; areas with the highest contribution rate to the groundwater source will be preferentially protected. The method under consideration thus provides a tool for sustainable development and land management.

To date, four actual cases have been treated in order to test the method's applicability. The results are convincing in various porous or fractured aquifers. One case is presented to illustrate an application of the methodology.

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