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Intrinsic groundwater vulnerability assessment by multiparameter methods, a case study of Suva Planina Mountain (SE Serbia)


Karst terrains appear on all continents and karst aquifers produce drinking water for more than 9% of the world’s population while being the most vulnerable to contamination. One of the main challenges in the management of a water supply that depends on groundwater is the possibility of the pollution of the karst aquifer which is usually open toward the surface and is highly permeable. Various environmental problems found in karstic areas demand a completely unconventional approach for this particular environment. To achieve and maintain high-quality groundwater that can be used for a public water supply, an effective prevention program must be designed and implemented. The process of determining the sanitary protection zones (SPZ) has been relying on new technologies, especially the use of a geographic information system (GIS) environment. An assortment of groundwater vulnerability assessment methods has been developed in the GIS environment, as a necessary basis for implementing preventive measures. Suva Planina Mountain is one of the greatest and the highest karst massifs in South-East Serbia. Almost all known karst features are present, and several karst springs exist at the foothill of the mountain. The largest springs have been captured for the water supply. The catchment areas of the springs are not populated and there is no industry, besides grazing and forestry; nevertheless, some limits for human impact must be enacted. This paper is an attempt at using the GIS-overlay spatial modeling technique for groundwater vulnerability assessment of Suva Planina Mountain. Maps of intrinsic vulnerability have been designed by the application of three multi-parameter methods for vulnerability mapping (EPIK, PI, COP). The maps that have been designed for Suva Planina Mountain show the existence of four classes of vulnerability, though in somewhat different arrangements and distribution.

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This research was supported by the Fund of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia—Project No. 176022.

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Correspondence to Branislav Petrović.

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This article is a part of a Topical Collection in Environmental Earth Sciences on Sustainable Management of Karst Natural Resources, guest edited by Drs. Sasa Malinovic and Zoran Stevanovic.

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Petrović, B. Intrinsic groundwater vulnerability assessment by multiparameter methods, a case study of Suva Planina Mountain (SE Serbia). Environ Earth Sci 79, 85 (2020).

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  • Karst aquifer
  • Intrinsic vulnerability
  • EPIK
  • PI
  • COP