Causes of groundwater level and chemistry changes in an urban area; a case study of Warsaw, Poland

Ewa Krogulec, Tomasz Gruszczyński, Sebastian Kowalczyk, Jerzy J. Małecki, Dorota Porowska, Katarzyna Sawicka, Joanna Trzeciak, Anna Wojdalska, Sebastian Zabłocki, Daniel Zaszewski


The presented studies focus on changes in groundwater levels and chemistry, and the identification of important factors influencing these changes on short- and long-term scales in urban areas. The results may be useful for rational and sustainable groundwater planning and management in cities. The studies concerned three aquifers: (1) the shallow Quaternary aquifer, (2) the deep Quaternary aquifer, and (3) the Oligocene aquifer in the capital city of Warsaw (Poland). The spatial variability of groundwater recharge was determined and its changes in time were characterized. The characteristics of groundwater levels were based on long-term monitoring series. The results indicate that urban development has caused overall reduction in infiltration recharge (from 54 to 51 mm/year), which is particularly clear in the city suburbs and in its centre, where land development has significantly densified during the last 30 years. Studies of groundwater levels indicate variable long-term trends. However, for the shallowest aquifer, the trends indicate a gradual decrease of the groundwater levels. In the case of the much deeper Oligocene aquifer, groundwater table rise is observed since the 1970s (averagely c. 20 m), which is related with excessive pumping. Based on the studied results, the groundwater chemistry in the subsurface aquifer indicates strong anthropogenic influence, which is reflected in multi-ionic hydrogeochemical types and the occurrence of chemical tracers typical of human activity. The Oligocene aquifer is characterized by a chemical composition indicating the influence of geogenic factors.


Urban area; Quaternary aquifers; Oligocene aquifer; Groundwater level changes; Infiltration; Groundwater chemistry; Warsaw

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