A review of the potential and actual sources of pollution to groundwater in selected karst areas in Slovenia
- 1University of Primorska, Faculty of Humanities Koper, Department of Geography, Glagoljaška 8, SI-6000 Koper, Slovenia
- 2Karst Research Institute, SRC SASA, Titov trg 2, SI-6230 Postojna, Slovenia
Abstract. Slovenian karst areas extend over 43% of the country; limestones and dolomites of the Mesozoic era prevail. In Slovenia karst groundwater contributes up to 50% of the total drinking water supply. The quality of water is very high, despite the fact that it is extremely vulnerable to pollution. The present article is a study and a review of the potential and actual sources of pollution to the groundwater in the selected karst aquifers (the Kras, Velika planina and Snežnik plateaus), which differ in their natural characteristics. Unlike the other selected plateaus, the Kras plateau is inhabited. There are several settlements in the area and the industrial, agricultural and traffic activities carried out that represent a serious threat to the quality of karst groundwater. The Velika planina and Snežnik plateaus do not have permanent residents, however there are some serious hazards to the quality of the karst springs arising from sports, tourist, construction and farming activities, as well as from the traffic related to them. Despite relatively favourable conditions for protection, many important karst aquifers and springs are improperly protected in Slovenia. The reason is the lack of knowledge about sustainable water management in karst regions and the confusion in drinking water protection policy.