Due to the wide geographical distribution, generally large catchment areas, their discharge towards individual springs and thus their potential for development, carbonate aquifers are very well suited for water supply. The water supply of approximately 25% of the world’s population is extracted from carbonate aquifers. Despite their widespread use, however, the management potential of carbonate aquifers is limited due to their low storage capacity (high hydraulic conductivity, low storage coefficients). Due to their high dynamics, fast reaction times and a low storage capacity, carbonate aquifers require dedicated management concepts.
Forecasting flow and mass transport is an essential part of groundwater resource management, especially for karst systems. There is a need for realistic predictions of the development of groundwater resources in karst systems in terms of quantity and quality due to the extreme variability in runoff behaviour and the high risk of pollutant inputs due to very high transport speeds. This characteristic is primarily a result of the pronounced heterogeneity in the hydraulic parameters and the high contrast in the hydraulic conductivities between highly transmissive fractures and low permeability finely fissured matrix.
The extremely variable groundwater recharge characteristic of semi-arid areas requires new, flexible, event-level “real-time” management concepts for a sustainable groundwater management.