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Project: Koning Boudewijnstichting: Fonds Professor Van Autenboer: "Influence of artificial and natural pressures on fresh groundwater discharge and saltwater intrusion in the Belgian coastal area"

2020-10-27 – 2023-12-15


Groundwater is an important resource of potable water in Belgium. However, the shallow groundwater reservoir in the coastal region is mostly filled with brackish or salt water (e.g. under the beach and in the low lying polder area). Which is why the production of drinking water mainly occurs in the dunes, were a freshwater lens is present, recharged with rain water. Part of this fresh water flows towards the North Sea, while the surrounding brackish and salt water can affect the freshwater by intrusion. The potable groundwater reservoir in the dunes is strongly influenced by natural (width of the dunes, type of sediments in the water bearing layer,...) and artificial factors (pumping of groundwater, urbanization,...).

This project assesses the influence of all these factors on the discharge of the groundwater towards the North Sea along the Belgian coast. The groundwater outflow is the natural loss of valuable drinking water and it can transport nutrients and pollutants to the North Sea. Also, the presence of saltwater intrusion is studied, since it can salinize the fresh groundwater reserves.

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