Vulsino volcanic aquifer in Umbria Region : Hydrogeological survey for the characterization of the presence of arsenic and aluminium and the correct use of groundwater

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Stefano Fratini *
Fabrizio Maria Francesconi
Roberto Checcucci
Francesco Frondini
Daniela Lanzi
Roberto Spinsanti
(*) Corresponding Author:
Stefano Fratini |


In December 2009 and the first months of 2010, a large water crisis took place in the Orvieto area, because of sudden high concentration of aluminum (Al) in the groundwater of the vulsino aquifer. This represents a supply for Orvieto’s population and other near municipalities (about 20,000 people). The contamination had reached values of about 3000 μg/l. Water crisis was made worse because of the expiring, in the same period, as expected, of the derogation of European Commission that allowed Arsenic concentrations above 10 μg/l (up to 50 μg/l). The contamination by Al occurred after intense and persistent rains, that mobilized a large amount of aluminum hydroxides in perched water table, in the form of colloidal particles. The field analysis showed that the potable water catchments are not interested in the same way by the contamination, i.e. the vulsino aquifer was not wholly conditioned by the presence of Al; in addition, in the same period in which the Al contamination occurred, there were no changes in the levels of As in groundwater. This paper shows the study of the complex hydrogeological Vulsino system; the aim is to identify technical solutions for realizing new catchments in order to manage the resource, in qualitative and quantitative terms, replacing/integrating the current equipments, which represent a risk because of the presence of Al and, secondly, As. A numerical flow and transport model was implemented to support the hydrogeological study, that has allowed us to formulate reliable predictions regarding the risk of Al contamination of future new wells.

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