Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water


01/09/2023 - 31/08/2026

Advances in field monitoring and analytical screening techniques for an improved knowledge of emerging contaminants fate in groundwater (EC-FATE)

EC-FATE is a sub-project of the coordinated project ADVANCE4WATER (Advances in the fate, impact and remediation of pollutants for water sustainability), which aims to increase knowledge on the issue of water resource pollution and achieve sustainability by improving our ability to reduce its environmental effects. From an environmental point of view, the pollution of water resources is one of the main threats to human and environmental health. The aim of the project is to advance the understanding of point and diffuse water pollution at the field scale, including but not limited to nitrates, halogenated volatile organic compounds and emerging pollutants (ECs) such as pesticides and compounds active pharmaceuticals (PhACs, including antibiotics), and their environmental impact. A second objective is to test innovative induced mitigation strategies for agricultural, urban and industrial groundwater contamination at laboratory and field scale for a range of pollutants (nitrate, chlorinated solvents, pesticides). Based on the goal of many international programs, we address these goals through 1) the improvement of analytical techniques for monitoring ECs and identifying attenuation processes with the use of specific isotopic analysis of compounds, 2) the research of field-scale pollution cases for the mentioned pollutants in different hydrogeological environments such as alluvial aquifers, coastal lagoons and lakes with a saltwater-freshwater interface where different pollutant attenuation processes occur , and 3) the laboratory and field scale development of advanced remediation techniques. In addition, we hope to reach state-of-the-art knowledge, as the project presents several novelties such as the use of proteomics to establish the origin of pollutants, the use of data-driven methods to predict reactive coefficients, the study of the attenuation processes in the water-sediment-freshwater interface and the establishment of suitable pollution indicators, based on geochemical and ecological parameters, and innovative remediation techniques based on the biostimulation of subterranean microbial communities through by-products of the food industry as a means to promote the circular economy. ADVANCE4WATER responds to the interests of four different partners who have been collaborating for more than a decade. In this proposal, each research topic is covered by several partners who combine their own expertise and provide an integrated development of each task, since the contributions of laboratory and field experiments will be considered and interpreted together at the different points of study The EC-FATE sub-project (Advances in field monitoring and analytical screening techniques for an improved knowledge of emerging contaminants fate in groundwater) deals with PhACs contamination in groundwater. It proposes an analytical improvement based on screening methods using UHPLC coupled to high-resolution HRMS, allowing a wider spectrum of compounds analyzed at even lower concentrations. Fieldwork in the Baix Fluvià aquifer, where the occurrence of PhACs was demonstrated (CGL2017-87216), will allow following the evolution of PhACs from the source: fertilization plus stream recharge and along the hydrological flow . Emphasis will be placed on reactive processes that control their fate. Absorption and degradation will be measured in experiments using groups of 5 compounds and with 30 types of soil from different localities. The data from these tests and the literature review will be analyzed using “data-driven methods”, i.e. artificial intelligence. Finally, proteomic analysis will identify sources of contamination, being a new application in groundwater contamination.




Mas Pla, Josep, Gros Calvo, Meritxell, Ros Berja, Nonito


Mas Pla, Josep