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Basement Groundwater as a Complementary Resource for Overexploited Stream-Connected Alluvial Aquifers


The use of groundwater from alluvial aquifers largely affects stream discharge by capturing the stream resources. This affects hydrological processes and riparian biodiversity. In this study, complementary water resources are investigated in an effort to ease human pressure on alluvial systems and, eventually, on stream-aquifer relationships. Discharge and hydrochemical data along a 5 km reach of the Tordera River (NE Spain) provide evidence that groundwater fluxes, associated with a regional hydrogeological system related to the basement fracture network, contribute to alluvial recharge and to stream flow. End-member mixing analysis considering upstream discharge, groundwater flows, and human inputs to the stream as major flow sources shows that regional basement groundwater fluxes are responsible for as much as 20 % of the total discharge, which also explains unexpected rises in stream flow. This suggests a possible new approach to local water resources planning, indicating that conjunctive use might actually be feasible.

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This study was carried out in the context of project CGL2008-06373-C03-03/BTE funded by the Spanish Government (MEC). It is also related to the tasks of the Observatori de la Tordera, sponsored by the Catalan Water Agency (ACA).

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Correspondence to Josep Mas-Pla.

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Revision submitted to Water Resources Management, October 2012.

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Mas-Pla, J., Menció, A. & Marsiñach, A. Basement Groundwater as a Complementary Resource for Overexploited Stream-Connected Alluvial Aquifers. Water Resour Manage 27, 293–308 (2013).

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  • Stream-aquifer interaction
  • End-member analysis
  • Mixing
  • Overexploitation