Groundwater Processes in Nutrient Budgets, Viviana Re @biralnas: GeoProject Series

NAME: Viviana Re

SHORT BIO: Viviana Re holds a PhD in Analysis and Governance of Sustainable Development (2011), a MSc in Environmental Sciences (2007) and a BSc. in Natural Sciences (2003). From 2009 to 2011, she has collaborated with UNESCO-IHP for the development of the Moroccan Pilot case study of the GEF-UNEP/MAP MEDParnership initiative. In 2013, she was awarded an EU Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship to develop a three-year project at the Laboratory of Radio-Analysis and Environment (LRAE) of National Engineering School of Sfax (ENIS), Tunisia, aimed at promoting a participative approach to sustainable groundwater management in rural areas. Her research interests include the investigation of groundwater quality in developing countries, the use of environmental isotopes to assess the origins of groundwater pollution, and the role of hydrogeology in supporting science-based management practices.

PROJECT TITLE: INTEGRON – Squaring the cycle: the integration of groundwater processes in nutrient budgets for a basin-oriented remediation strategy

AREA OF EXPERTISE: Hydrogeology, Hydrogeochemistry, Biogeochemistry, Socio-hydrogeology

PROJECT LOCATION: Adda and the Ticino basins (North Italy)



What’s the purpose of your project?

The INTEGRON project aims at evaluating the role of groundwater as a temporary or permanent sink or as a source in nutrient mass balances at the catchment scale in two key sub-basins of Po River, the Adda, and the Ticino.

The project is financed by CARIPLO Foundation in the frame of the call: “Research on water pollution and aimed at a correct water resource management 2015” (Grant number 2015-0263).

INTEGRON project. Social network analysis. ©2018 Viviana Re

How are you setting up and testing your project?

An innovative and integrated approach is proposed, considering both surface and groundwater, combining hydrogeology and biogeochemistry, and targeting both N and P species. This includes:

(i) the calculation of the nutrient surplus and the load exported by rivers at the closing section to quantify the amount retained within the basin;

(ii) groundwater dating to infer the residence time of nutrients;

(iii) the estimate of the amount of nutrients exchanged between surface and ground waters and the identification of processes occurring at the interface;

(iv) the investigation of the factors promoting the retention or removal of nutrients (e.g. denitrification, P adsorption);

(v) a socio-hydrogeological analysis to identify key-actors in the implementation of new management practices.

groundwater sampling

INTEGRON project. ©2018 Viviana Re


Sampling day. ©2018 Viviana Re

Any results yet?

The project permitted to highlight the occurrence of a nutrient excess compared to the crop uptake in the agricultural lands. In addition, an increase in nitrate (NO3-) concentration in surface and ground waters is observed, facilitated by irrigation activities.

The socio-hydrogeological approach permitted to identify the main actors involved (directly and indirectly) in NO3- contamination, and those more likely to contribute to pollution reduction measures.

For more information on the results:

rice pond sampling

Sampling in rice pond area. ©2018 Viviana Re

What has been the most interesting/challenging (include lessons learned)?

The main originality of the project is the integrated approach, which considers both surface and groundwater and addresses both N and P, two key nutrients whose dynamics and mutual relationships are rarely examined together at the catchment scale. By integrating the role of groundwater as a sink or source for nutrients, the project will investigate the ecosystem services provided by this compartment, identify the main present and future criticalities, and evaluate the potential and time frame for a natural attenuation of the contamination.


Sampling in the Spring Belt area. ©2018 Viviana Re

How will this project help society?

The project addresses the need to restore and preserve good water quality status for future generations, one of the key challenges faced by water resources managers, having to cope also with the changes in water availability due to climatic change and the increasing demand from multiple users.

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