Jacobs Journal of Civil Engineering

Factor analysis to assess pollutant source apportionment and to investigate the relationship between catchment attributes and instream water quality

Published on: 2017-08-26


The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD EC60/2000) requires that quality-flow compliance at a particular surface-water reach entail consideration of all upstream inputs, including contaminated land and groundwater contributions. Multivariate statistical techniques may improve our understanding of the pollutant sources affecting river quality. Aim of this study is to analyze the source apportionment and the groundwater contribution to the total pollutant load of Mella river. Factor Analysis (FA) was applied to a series of water quality measurements at seven monitoring sites, located upstream, in the middle and downstream the groundwater recharge area of the Mella river watershed. FA results in the upstream sites were completely different from the lowland stations that were strongly influenced by the groundwater contribution. In the upstream sites, in fact, the major pollutant source resulted to be the contribution of the Gobbia tributary which collects the industrial loads of the Val Trompia metallurgic consortium. On the other hand the groundwater was found to be the most significant pollutant source in the lowland sites. FA proved also useful to distinguish between sources of metals and chlorinated solvents.


Factor Analysis; Groundwater Interactions With Surface Waters; Source Apportionment; Macro and Micropollutants