The worsening of groundwater quality is a huge problem for some regions, especially where a karst aquifer system is the most important water resource because of the deficiency of a well-developed superficial water supply. In this study the chemical quality of a deep aquifer of the Salento peninsula (Southern Italy), where a shallow aquifer and an extensive deep aquifer are exploited as a source of drinking water and irrigation water, was monitored. The indicator used to assess the sustainability of pollution produce by human activities is the "grey water footprint" (GWF) which measures the amount of water required to assimilate a polluting load produced from anthropic activity. The GWF, calculated for each chemical parameter, shows a widespread contamination by Mercury (Hg), Vanadium (V) and Ammonium (NH4+) with concentrations above the limits (Lgs. D. 31/2001). The high Mercury and Vanadium concentrations may thus be associated with anthropic pressures on the aquifer, while Ammonium derives mainly from fertilizers used in agriculture. The situation that emerged involves reflections on the continuous human pressure on natural resources. Therefore, the management of groundwater quality requires a multidisciplinary approach focused on identifying the measures necessary to protect our water resources.
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