Water planning in a mixed land use Mediterranean area: point-source abstraction and pollution scenarios by a numerical model of varying stream-aquifer regime

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Jan;26(3):2145-2166. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-1437-0. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


Integrated hydrodynamic modelling is an efficient approach for making semi-quantitative scenarios reliable enough for groundwater management, provided that the numerical simulations are from a validated model. The model set-up, however, involves many inputs due to the complexity of both the hydrological system and the land use. The case study of a Mediterranean alluvial unconfined aquifer in the lower Var valley (Southern France) is useful to test a method to estimate lacking data on water abstraction by small farms in urban context. With this estimation of the undocumented pumping volumes, and after calibration of the exchange parameters of the stream-aquifer system with the help of a river model, the groundwater flow model shows a high goodness of fit with the measured potentiometric levels. The consistency between simulated results and real behaviour of the system, with regard to the observed effects of lowering weirs and previously published hydrochemistry data, confirms reliability of the groundwater flow model. On the other hand, accuracy of the transport model output may be influenced by many parameters, many of which are not derived from field measurements. In this case study, for which river-aquifer feeding is the main control, the partition coefficient between direct recharge and runoff does not show a significant effect on the transport model output, and therefore, uncertainty of the hydrological terms such as evapotranspiration and runoff is not a first-rank issue to the pollution propagation. The simulation of pollution scenarios with the model returns expected pessimistic outputs, with regard to hazard management. The model is now ready to be used in a decision support system by the local water supply managers.

Keywords: Agriculture impact; Finite element; Numerical simulation; Runoff coefficient; Unconfined aquifer.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Pollution*
  • Farms
  • France
  • Groundwater*
  • Hydrology
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rivers*
  • Water Movements*
  • Water Supply*
  • Water*


  • Water