Water Resources Management

, Volume 30, Issue 13, pp 4513–4527 | Cite as

A Standardized Index for Assessing Seawater Intrusion in Coastal Aquifers: The SITE Index

  • Bruno J. BallesterosEmail author
  • Ignacio Morell
  • Olga García-Menéndez
  • Arianna Renau-Pruñonosa


A large number of coastal aquifers worldwide are impacted by seawater intrusion. A major aim of European Directives 2000/60/EC and 2006/118/EC is to achieve good ecological status in groundwater bodies, including coastal aquifers. To this goal, information is needed about the current state of, and changes over time in, individual aquifers. This information can be obtained by applying methods that determine the status of aquifers in an uncomplicated manner. Methods for this type of assessment must comply with three essential criteria. First, calculation of the index must be straightforward and should be based on easy-to-obtain or commonly available data. Next, the index should be able to highlight important characteristics in understandable terms. Finally, the results should be objective and should be expressed in such a way that different time periods and different aquifers can be compared. In this paper we describe the development of a method to characterize seawater intrusion that meets these criteria and is based on four basic parameters: surface area, intensity, temporality, and evolution. Each parameter is determined by specific calculations derived from the groundwater chloride concentrations. Results are specified as a numerical index and an alphanumeric code. This index, known as SITE, has been applied to four Mediterranean coastal aquifers. The standardized results allowed us to discriminate between, and objectively compare the status of these groundwater bodies. Further, this index will make it possible to prioritize management actions and evaluate the effectiveness of these actions over time.


Seawater intrusion Coastal aquifers Index Groundwater management 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Aquifers Research Group, Geological Survey of SpainValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Coastal Aquifers Research Group, Research Institute for Pesticides and WaterJaume I UniversityCastellón de la PlanaSpain

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