Categorical Indicator Kriging for assessing the risk of groundwater nitrate pollution: the case of Vega de Granada aquifer (SE Spain).Sci Total Environ. 2014 Feb 01; 470-471:229-39.ST
Groundwater nitrate pollution associated with agricultural activity is an important environmental problem in the management of this natural resource, as acknowledged by the European Water Framework Directive. Therefore, specific measures aimed to control the risk of water pollution by nitrates must be implemented to minimise its impact on the environment and potential risk to human health. The spatial probability distribution of nitrate contents exceeding a threshold or limit value, established within the quality standard, will be helpful to managers and decision-makers. A methodology based on non-parametric and non-linear methods of Indicator Kriging was used in the elaboration of a nitrate pollution categorical map for the aquifer of Vega de Granada (SE Spain). The map has been obtained from the local estimation of the probability that a nitrate content in an unsampled location belongs to one of the three categories established by the European Water Framework Directive: CL. 1 good quality [Min - 37.5 ppm], CL. 2 intermediate quality [37.5-50 ppm] and CL. 3 poor quality [50 ppm - Max]. The obtained results show that the areas exceeding nitrate concentrations of 50 ppm, poor quality waters, occupy more than 50% of the aquifer area. A great proportion of the area's municipalities are located in these poor quality water areas. The intermediate quality and good quality areas correspond to 21% and 28%, respectively, but with the highest population density. These results are coherent with the experimental data, which show an average nitrate concentration value of 72 ppm, significantly higher than the quality standard limit of 50 ppm. Consequently, the results suggest the importance of planning actions in order to control and monitor aquifer nitrate pollution.