Groundwater modeling of the withdrawal sustainability of Cannara artesian aquifer (Umbria, Italy)

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Giovanni Pietro Beretta *
Monica Avanzini
Tomaso Marangoni
Marino Burini
Giacomo Schirò
Jacopo Terrenghi
Gaetano Vacca
(*) Corresponding Author:
Giovanni Pietro Beretta |


The Cannara aquifer (Umbria, Italy) has been known for more than a century, and is one of the main drinking water supplies in the Umbria Region. In the beginning it was used for irrigation purposes, since this area was mainly agricultural up to the 1960s. The groundwater—exploited by Umbra Acque S.p.A. (a Company supplying drinking water)—is 150 m under ground level and is contained in a porous confined aquifer, which originally had artesian characteristics. Exploitation of 200–300 l/s with nine wells caused a reduction of piezometric level, maintaining the confined aquifer conditions, except for a very short period during which the aquifer was depressurised by drought, and for increase of emergency withdrawals replacing other water supplies (from springs) for drinking purposes. The occasional presence of iron and ammonium ions confirms the confinement of the groundwater and their hydrochemical facies in a redox environment, while in nearby areas and shallow aquifers anthropogenic contaminants (nitrates and chlorinated solvents) are reported. For the protection of this aquifer of strategic interest (the most important well field in Umbria), all hydrological and hydrochemical data available have been reviewed, and the aquifer recharge studied. Sustainable rates of withdrawal, and groundwater protection areas have been identified using a numerical flow model. Further action for monitoring groundwater of both shallow and artesian aquifers, together with well-revamping, have been proposed.

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