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Non-point pollution of groundwater from agricultural activities in Mediterranean Spain: the Balearic Islands case study


Mediterranean Spain is a region with intensive agricultural production combined with an important seasonal water demand for water supply. High application rates of inorganic nitrogen fertiliser, input of plant protection products and intensive irrigation, sometimes with treated wastewater, is a common practice. As a result, most aquifers show nitrate contamination problems of agricultural origin. Data on pesticide residues is scarce, as systematic monitoring is not currently done. In Majorca Island, values up to 700 mg/l of nitrate in groundwater have been observed. To analyse the current situation derived from non-point pollution, several actions have been taken at different scales: declaration of a nitrate vulnerable zone, field experiments to evaluate nitrogen transport to the aquifer and the development of a GIS-simulation model to generate nitrate risk maps.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Baron and Ms. Gonzales (Balearic autonomous government) and the S’Esplet cooperative for their support in the ongoing research.

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Correspondence to L. Candela.

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Candela, L., Wallis, K.J. & Mateos, R.M. Non-point pollution of groundwater from agricultural activities in Mediterranean Spain: the Balearic Islands case study. Environ Geol 54, 587–595 (2008).

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