Assessment of a Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network Using Vulnerability Mapping and Geostatistics: A Case Study from Heretaunga Plains, New Zealand

Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 97 Issue 2 (February 2010), pages 240-246

Husam Baalousha

“A groundwater monitoring network can provide quantity and quality data necessary to make informed decisions regarding the state of the environment. A properly designed monitoring system provides a representative understanding of the state of the monitored area. The selection of the optimum number of monitoring sites and their spatial distribution is a major challenge for the hydrogeologist. On the one hand, improper distribution of monitoring sites or insufficient number of sites will not provide a representative view of the state of the environment. On the other hand, if the sampled sites are too many, the information obtained is redundant and the monitoring network is costly and inefficient. A new methodology combining vulnerability mapping and geostatistics is proposed to help define the most efficient groundwater quality monitoring network on a regional scale. Vulnerability mapping identifies areas with high pollution potential, and in turn, prioritises for monitoring. A geostatistics methodology is then used to interpret the obtained data and to examine the spatial distribution of monitored parameters at different sites. The accuracy of spatial mapping reflects the effectiveness of the distribution of the monitoring sites. The methodology was applied to assess the nitrate monitoring network in the Heretaunga basin, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The DRASTIC approach was used to prepare a vulnerability map for the area of study, and kriging variance was used to check the spatial distribution of the sites. Based on this study, it was found that some areas with high vulnerability are not covered within the existing network indicating the number of monitoring sites and their distribution is not efficient. Some sites should be dropped and some others need to be added to the existing network.”

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