JWARP  Vol.10 No.3 , March 2018
Groundwater Contribution to Surface Water Contamination in a North German Low Land Catchment with Intensive Agricultural Land Use
Abstract: The contribution of groundwater (GW) to the nitrate loads in surface waters (SW) was exemplarily studied for the river Augraben with a catchment area of 89.9 km2, located in north eastern Germany. The study uses available GW and SW quality data in order to develop a relationship between SW and GW in the Augraben catchment. The calculated ratio of base flow varies from 40% to 80% using various filtering methods of hydrograph separation methods (without taking into account the drainage) in comparison to a calculated GW infiltration of 5% - 7% applying Darcy’s law (upper unconfined aquifer). Drainage was estimated as the difference in base flow obtained through filtering methods of hydrograph separation and the Darcy’s law. Results on the basis of monitoring data and hydrograph separation in quick flow and base flow showed that during winter periods, high concentration in SW has been found parallel to periods of higher GW flow with a strong correlation between SW and GW concentrations. These findings also coincided with the non-vegetation period, i.e. low nitrogen uptake by plants. Overall, nitrate-nitrogen loads at the SW monitoring point (Bei Lindenberg represents the 85% area of the catchment) were 193.5, 97.72, and 122 tons for the year 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Measured GW concentrations in the catchment differ strongly, depending on land use, with elevated concentrations in agricultural areas compared to monitoring points in grass land and in forest areas. In one GW monitoring station, NO3 concentrations exceed the maximum permissible limits (MPL) according to EU water quality standards (MPL = 50 mg/l NO3), up to factor two. High ammonia concentrations at another station may be due to excessive application of manure. The contribution of the different sub-catchments to nitrate load in SW can be ranked in decreasing order in Zone B, D, A and C. Drainage and interflow proved to be a major contributor with 55% - 65% of total load in SW. With the applied method a robust estimation of GW contribution to nitrate loads is feasible using typically available monitoring data of German environmental authorities.
Cite this paper: Waseem, M. , Koegst, T. and Tränckner, J. (2018) Groundwater Contribution to Surface Water Contamination in a North German Low Land Catchment with Intensive Agricultural Land Use. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 10, 231-250. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2018.103014.

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