Determination of background levels on water quality of groundwater bodies: a methodological proposal applied to a Mediterranean River basin (Guadalhorce River, Málaga, southern Spain).J Environ Manage. 2013 Mar 15; 117:121-30.JE
Determine background levels are a key element in the further characterisation of groundwater bodies, according to Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC and, more specifically, Groundwater Directive 2006/118/EC. In many cases, these levels present very high values for some parameters and types of groundwater, which is significant for their correct estimation as a prior step to establishing thresholds, assessing the status of water bodies and subsequently identifying contaminant patterns. The Guadalhorce River basin presents widely varying hydrogeological and hydrochemical conditions. Therefore, its background levels are the result of the many factors represented in the natural chemical composition of water bodies in this basin. The question of determining background levels under objective criteria is generally addressed as a statistical problem, arising from the many aspects involved in its calculation. In the present study, we outline the advantages of applying two statistical techniques applied specifically for this purpose: (1) the iterative 2σ technique and (2) the distribution function, and examine whether the conclusions reached by these techniques are similar or whether they differ considerably. In addition, we identify the specific characteristics of each approach and the circumstances under which they should be used.