Long-term artificial seawater irrigation as a sustainable environmental management strategy for abandoned solar salt works: The case study of Agua Amarga salt marsh (SE Spain)
- Volumen: 217
- Fecha: 01 octubre 2022
- ISSN: 03418162
- Tipo de fuente: Revista
- DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2022.106429
- Tipo de documento: Artículo
- Editorial: Elsevier B.V.
© 2022 The AuthorsGroundwater abstraction is among the main anthropogenic causes of wetland desiccation worldwide, and corrective measures must be taken to avoid degradation of this valuable ecosystems. A case study is the Agua Amarga salt marsh (¿180 ha) (SE Spain). Agua Amarga includes a solar saltwork pond network in operation between 1925 and 1975, when it was abandoned, and the ponds were colonized by salt marsh vegetation. In 2008 two desalination plants were operating in the marsh vicinity, which were supplied with groundwater. To mitigate the possible negative impact on the salt marsh ecosystem due to groundwater drawdown, in 2009 a sea water irrigation program was implemented. This paper summarizes the results of a ten-year monitoring program (2010¿2020) to evaluate the effects of the irrigation program on groundwater levels and quality, soil salinity and moisture, and vegetation cover. During this period, average groundwater level was 2.5 m below the surface and around 1 m deep near the irrigated ponds. Groundwater salinity was not affected outside the saltmarsh, but inside, where the saltworks caused values to rise above 300 mS/cm, it decreased more than 150 mS/cm in some 20 m deep piezometers. Between 2012 and 2020, vegetation cover increased between ¿10 and ¿25 %, with halophyte species such as Arthrocnemum macrostachyum and Sarcocornia fruticosa being the most favoured. In areas with prolonged flooding, Ruppia maritima, a plant species that lives submerged in saline water, was found. In the irrigated areas, soil electrical conductivity (1:5 soil:water extracts) decreased from ¿7-14 mS cm-1 to ¿2-6 mS cm-1. We present an example of sustainable actions in a coastal wetland, where the exploitation of water resources in semiarid areas is combined with promoting natural habitats.