Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 1081–1105 | Cite as

Groundwater quality, nitrate pollution and irrigation environmental management in the Neogene sediments of an agricultural region in central Thessaly (Greece)

  • G. Stamatis
  • K. Parpodis
  • Α. FilintasEmail author
  • Ε. Zagana
Original Article


The degradation of groundwater quality, which has been noted in the recent years, is closely connected to the intensification of agriculture, the unreasonable use of chemical fertilizers and the excess consumption of large volumes of irrigation water. In the hilly region of central Thessaly in Greece, which suffers the consequences of intense agricultural use, a hydrogeological study is carried out, taking groundwater samples from springs and boreholes in the Neogene aquifers. The aim of this study is the investigation of irrigation management, water quality and suitability for various uses (water supply, irrigation), the degradation degree and the spatial distribution of pollutants using GIS. The following hydrochemical types prevail in the groundwater of the study area: Ca–Mg–HCO3, Mg–Ca–Na–HCO3 and Na–HCO3. In the above shallow aquifers, especially high values of NO3 (31.7–299.0), NH4 + (0.12–1.11), NO2 (0.018–0.109), PO4 3− (0.07–0.55), SO4 2− (47.5–146.5) and Cl (24.8–146.5) are found, particularly near inhabited areas (values are in mg L−1). The water of shallow aquifers is considered unsuitable for human use due to their high polluting load, while the water of the deeper aquifers is suitable for human consumption. Regarding water suitability for irrigation, the evaluation of SAR (0.153–7.397) and EC (481–1,680 μS cm−1) resulted in classification category ‘C3S1’, indicating high salinity and low sodium water which can be used for irrigation in most soils and crops with little to medium danger of development of exchangeable sodium and salinity. The statistical data analysis, the factor analysis and the GIS application have brought out the vulnerable-problematic zones in chemical compounds of nitrogen and phosphates. The groundwater quality degradation is localized and related exclusively to human activities. Based on 2005 and 2008 estimates, the annual safe yield of the region’s aquifers were nearly 41.95 MCM. However, the existing situation is that 6.37 MCM of water is over extracted from these aquifers.


Groundwater and irrigation water quality Nitrate pollution and GIS geostatistical analysis Neogene sediments Hydrochemical and factor analysis Evapotranspiration and irrigation analysis Central Thessaly (Greece) 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Stamatis
    • 1
  • K. Parpodis
    • 1
  • Α. Filintas
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ε. Zagana
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Mineralogy-GeologyAgricultural University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of EnvironmentUniversity of the AegeanMytilene, LesvosGreece
  3. 3.Institute of Hydrogeology, Department of GeologyUniversity of PatrasRio-PatrasGreece

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