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Combining boron isotopes and carbamazepine to trace sewage in salinized groundwater: a case study in Cap Bon, Tunisia

Abstract : The Korba aquifer on the east coast of Cape Bon has been overexploited since the 1960s with a resultant reversal of the hydraulic gradient and a degradation of the quality due to seawater intrusion. In 2008, the authorities introduced integrated water resources planning based on a managed aquifer recharge with treated wastewater. Water quality monitoring was implemented in order to determine the different system components and trace the effectiveness of the artificial recharge. Groundwater samples taken from recharge control piezometers and surrounding farm wells were analyzed for their chemical contents, for their boron isotopes, a proven tracer of groundwater salinization and domestic sewage, and their carbamazepine content, an anti-epileptic known to pass through wastewater treatment and so recognized as a pertinent tracer of wastewater contamination. The system equilibrium was permanently disturbed by the different temporal dynamics of continuous processes such as cation exchange, and by threshold processes linked to oxidation-reductive conditions. The boron isotopic compositions significantly shifted back-and-forth due to mixing with end-members of various origins. Under the variable contribution of meteoric recharge, the Plio-Quaternary groundwater (δ11B of 35-40.6‰, a mean B concentration of 30 µmol/L, no carbamazepine, n=7) was subject to seawater intrusion that induced a high δ11B level (δ11B of 41.5-48.0‰, a mean B concentration of 36 µmol/L, and n=8). Fresh groundwater (δ11B of 19.89‰, B concentration of 2.8 µmol/L, no carbamazepine) was detected close to the recharge site and may represent the deep Miocene pole which feeds the upper Plio-Quaternary aquifer. The managed recharge water (δ11B of 10.67-13.8‰, n=3) was brackish and of poor quality with a carbamazepine content showing a large short term variability with an average daily levels of 328 ± 61 ng/L. A few piezometers in the vicinity of the recharge site gradually acquired a B isotopic composition close to the wastewater signature and showed an increasing carbamazepine content (from 20 to 910 ng/L). The combination of boron isotopic signatures with boron and carbamazepine contents is a useful tool to assess sources and mixing of treated wastewaters in groundwaters. Effluent quality needs to be greatly improved before injection to prevent further degradation of groundwater quality.
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Soumis le : samedi 18 mai 2013 - 07:00:15
Dernière modification le : dimanche 26 juin 2022 - 10:09:45
Archivage à long terme le : : lundi 19 août 2013 - 02:20:08


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Lise Cary, Joël Casanova, Noureddine Gaaloul, Catherine Guerrot. Combining boron isotopes and carbamazepine to trace sewage in salinized groundwater: a case study in Cap Bon, Tunisia. Applied Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2013, 34, pp.126-139. ⟨10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.03.004⟩. ⟨hal-00814985⟩



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