Environmental Earth Sciences

, 77:748 | Cite as

Quantification of water and sewage leakages from urban infrastructure into a shallow aquifer in East Ukraine

  • Y. VystavnaEmail author
  • D. Diadin
  • P. M. Rossi
  • M. Gusyev
  • J. Hejzlar
  • R. Mehdizadeh
  • F. Huneau
Original Article


Leaky water supply and sewer mains can become unmanaged sources of urban groundwater recharge and contamination posing environmental and health risks. Stable isotopes of water and hydrochemical tracer were applied to quantify water and sewage leakages in a shallow aquifer of a large Ukrainian city. Binary and ternary mixing models were used based on the d-excess and chloride concentrations of tap water, rural and urban groundwater to estimate fractions of natural recharge, urban seepage, volumes of water supply and sewage leakages in urban springs. Water supply leakages that recharge aquifer were ~ 3% (6.5 Mm3 a− 1) of the total water supply and strongly correlated with failures on the water infrastructure. Sewage leakages (1.4 Mm3 a− 1) to the aquifer were less in amount than water supply leakages, but induced nitrate and associated contaminants pollution risk of urban groundwater. The proposed method is useful for the pilot evaluation of urban groundwater recharge and contamination and can be applied in other regions worldwide to support the decision-making in water management.


Deuterium Oxygen isotope Water losses Sewer Urban groundwater Ukraine 



The research was carried out in the framework of projects CRP F33020 “Environmental isotopes methods to assess water quality issues in rivers impacted by groundwater discharges” and CRP F33021 “Evaluation of human impacts on water balance and nutrients dynamics in the transboundary Russia/Ukraine river basin” and CRP F33024 “Isotope Techniques for the Evaluation of Water Sources for Domestic Supply in Urban Areas” partly funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Additional thanks to Mr. Yuriy Vergeles and Ms. Olga Reshetova for the samples collection.

Supplementary material

12665_2018_7936_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 KB)


  1. Asmael NM, Huneau F, Garel E, Celle-Jeanton H, Le Coustumer P, Dupuy A et al (2015) Origin and recharge mechanisms of groundwater in the upper part of the Awaj River (Syria) based on hydrochemistry and environmental isotope techniques. Arab J Geosci 8(12):10521–10542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bareš V, Stránský D, Sýkora P (2009) Sewer infiltration/inflow: long-term monitoring based on diurnal variation of pollutant mass flux. Water Sci Technol 60(1):1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barret MH, Hiscock KM, Pedley S, Lerner DN, Tellam JH, French M (1999) Review paper. Marker species for identifying urban groundwater recharge sources: a review and case study in Nottingham, UK. Water Res 33(14):3083–3097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bob M, Rahman N, Elamin A, Taher S (2016) Rising groundwater levels problem in urban areas: a case study from the central area of Madinah city, Saudi Arabia. Arab J Sci Eng 41(4):1461–1472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen Q, Qu J, Liu R, Li W (2008) Rule-based model for aging-induced leakage from water supply pipe network in Beijing City. China Water Wastewater 24(11):52–56 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  6. City Council (2010) The declaration of the Kharkiv City Council No. 321 from 8.09.2010 on the discharge of raw wastewater in the municipal sewage systemGoogle Scholar
  7. Craig H (1961) Isotopic variations in meteoric waters. Science 133:1702–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dansgaard W (1964) Stables isotopes in precipitation. Tellus 16:436–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davies JP, Clarke BA, Whiter JT, Cunningham RJ (2001) Factors influencing the structural deterioration and collapse of rigid sewer pipes. Urban Water 3:73–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deb P, Debnath P, Denis AF, Lepcha OT (2018) Variability of soil physicochemical properties at different agroecological zones of Himalayan region: Sikkim, India. Environ Dev Sustain. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fenner RA (2000) Approaches to sewer maintenance: a review. Urban Water 2:343–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garcia-Fresca B (2005) Hydrogeologic considerations of urban development: urban-induced recharge. Rev Eng Geol 16:123–136Google Scholar
  13. Geological Survey (2007) Supplementary report to geological map of Ukraine, scale 1:200000, sheets M-37-XIII (Kharkiv)/Geological Survey of Ukraine. 2007. Printed in Kharkiv. UkraineGoogle Scholar
  14. Grimmeisen F, Lehmann MF, Liesch T, Goeppert N, Klinger J, Zopfi J et al (2017) Isotopic constraints on water source mixing, network leakage and contamination in an urban groundwater system. Sci Total Environ 583:202–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Houhou J, Lartiges BS, France-Lanord C, Guilmette C, Poix S, Mustin C (2010) Isotopic tracing of clear water sources in an urban sewer: a combined water and dissolved sulfate stable isotope approach. Water Res 44(1):256–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jurado A, Vazquez-Sune E, Carrera J, Lopez de Alda M, Pujades E, Barcelo D (2012) Emerging organic contaminants in groundwater in Spain: a review of sources, recent occurrence and fate in a Europe context. Sci Total Environ 440:82–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kendall C, Young MB, Silva SR (2010) Applications of stable isotopes for regional to national scale water quality and environmental monitoring programs. Chapter 5. In: West JB (ed) Isosceles: understanding movement, pattern and process on Earth through isotope mapping. Springer, New York, pp 89–111Google Scholar
  18. Kesteloot S, Djelal C, Baraka S, Benslimane I (2006) Modelling of sewerage systems strengthened with composites plates. Constr Build Mater 20:158–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kopáček J, Hejzlar J, Porcal P, Posch M (2014) A mass-balance study on chloride fluxes in a large central European catchment during 1900–2010. Biogeochemistry 120(1–3):543–550Google Scholar
  20. KP Voda (2017) The official website of the Municipal water supply and sewage works enterprise ‘KP Voda’. Accessed 9 Nov 2018
  21. Lai WL, Chang KW, Sham FC, Pang K (2016) Perturbation mapping of water leak in buried water pipes via laboratory validation experiments with high-frequency ground penetrating radar (GPR). Tunn Undergr Sp Tech 52:157–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lerner DN (2002) Identifying and quantifying urban recharge: a review. Hydrogeol J 10:143–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McGuire KJ, McDonnell JJ (2006) A review and evaluation of catchment transit time modeling. J Hydrol 330:543–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nisi B, Raco B, Dotsika E (2016) Groundwater contamination studies by environmental isotopes: a review. Handb Environ Chem 40:115–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Penckwitt J, van Geldern R, Hagspiel B, Packebusch B, Mahr A, Burkhardt K et al (2016) Quantification of groundwater infiltration into urban sewer systems using stable isotopes. Grundwasser 21(3):217–225 (in German)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Qin D, Qian Y, Han L, Wang Z, Li C, Zhao Z (2011) Assessing impact of irrigation water on groundwater recharge and quality in arid environment using CFCs, tritium and stable isotopes, in the Zhangye Basin, Northwest China. J Hydrol 405(1–2):194–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Roehrdanz PR, Feraud M, Lee DG, Means JC, Snyder SA, Holden PA (2017) Spatial models of sewer pipe leakage predict the occurrence of wastewater indicators in shallow urban groundwater. Environ Sci Technol 51(3):1213–1223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rossi PM, Marttila H, Jyväsjärvi J, Ala-aho P, Isokangas E, Muotka T et al (2015) Environmental conditions of boreal springs explained by capture zone characteristics. J Hydrol 531:992–1002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Russow R, Kupka H-J, Götz A, Apelt B (2002) A new approach to determining the content and 15N abundance of total dissolved nitrogen in aqueous samples: TOC analyser-QMS coupling. Iso Environ Health S 38(4):215–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Staufer P, Scheidegger A, Rieckermann J (2012) Assessing the performance of sewer rehabilitation on the reduction of infiltration and inflow. Water Res 46:5185–5196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stewart MK, Morgenstern U, Gusyev MA, Maloszewski P (2017) Aggregation effects on tritium-based mean transit times and young water fractions in spatially heterogeneous catchments and groundwater systems, and implications for past and future applications of tritium. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci Discuss 21:4615–4627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tubau I, Vázquez-Suñé E, Carrera J, Valhondo C, Criollo R (2017) Quantification of groundwater recharge in urban environments. Sci Total Environ 592:391–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ukrainian Government (2015) Annual National Report on the Drinking Water Supply in regions of Ukraine. Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Municipal Economy. Accessed 8 Nov 2018
  34. UN Habitat (2010) Water for sustainable urban human settlements. WWAP. Report of UN Habitat, p 100. Accessed 8 Nov 2018
  35. Vázquez-Suñé E, Carrera J, Tubau I, Sánchez-Vila X, Soler A (2010) An approach to identify urban groundwater recharge. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 14(10):2085–2097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vystavna Y, Yakovlev V, Diadin D, Vergeles Y, Stolberg F (2015) Hydrochemical characteristics and water quality assessment of surface and ground waters in the transboundary (Russia/Ukraine) Seversky Donets basin. Environ Earth Sci 74(1):585–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vystavna Y, Diadin D, Yakovlev V, Hejzlar J, Vadillo I, Huneau F et al (2017a) Nitrate contamination in a shallow urban aquifer in East Ukraine: evidence from hydrochemical, stable isotopes of nitrate and land use analysis. Environ Earth Sci 76(13):463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vystavna Y, Diadin D, Grynenko V, Yakovlev V, Vergeles Y, Huneau F et al (2017b) Determination of dominant sources of nitrate contamination in transboundary (Russia/Ukraine) catchment with heterogeneous land use. Environ Monit Assess 189:509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vystavna Y, Diadin D, Huneau F (2018) Defining a stable water isotope framework for isotope hydrology application in a large trans-boundary watershed (Russian Federation/Ukraine). Iso Environ Health S 2(54):147–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. WHO (2011) Nitrate and nitrite in drinking water. Background document for development of WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. WHO Press, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  41. WHO (2013) Technical notes on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies.
  42. Yadav S, Deb P, Kumar S, Pandey V, Pandey PK (2016) Trends in major and minor meteorological variables and their influence on reference evapotranspiration for mid Himalayan region at east Sikkim, India. J Mt Sci 13(2):302–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yakovlev VV (2017) Natural waters challenging sources for drinking water supply of Ukraine, their protection and rational use. Manuscript of the DR thesis in Geology. Institute of Environmental Geochemistry, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine (in Ukrainian with English abstract)Google Scholar
  44. Yakovlev V, Vystavna Y, Diadin D, Vergeles Y (2015) Nitrates in springs and rivers of East Ukraine: distribution, contamination and fluxes. Appl Geochem 53:71–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of SciencesInstitute of HydrobiologyCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Engineering and ManagementO.M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy in KharkivKharkivUkraine
  3. 3.Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research UnitUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  4. 4.International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) under the auspices of UNESCOPublic Works Research Institute (PWRI)TsukubaJapan
  5. 5.GeoRessources, UMR 7359Université de Lorraine/CNRS/CREGU, Mines NancyNancy CedexFrance
  6. 6.Laboratoire d’HydrogéologieUniversité de Corse Pascal Paoli, Campus Grimaldi, BP 52CorteFrance
  7. 7.CNRS, UMR 6134 SPE, BP 52CorteFrance

Personalised recommendations