Contamination by chlorinated solvents is typically associated with point sources, which are able to release high concentrations and to generate well defined plumes. Nevertheless, in urban settings (especially in functional urban areas—FUAs), multiple-point sources are frequently present, consisting of a series of unidentifiable small sources clustered within large areas, generating a diffuse, anthropogenic contamination. This situation results in the coexistence of single plumes with higher contaminant concentrations, and larger areas where the concentration is lower but still higher than the maximum admissible concentration limits. This paper proposes a methodology devised to cope with the diffuse contamination by chlorinated solvents within shallow aquifers due to multiple-point sources in FUAs. The approach is based on a Bayesian model that helps to spatially evaluate the likelihood of having active multiple-point sources, and to relate their impact on the shallow aquifer to the hydrogeological features of the area. Moreover, the approach allows testing of the efficiency of the monitoring network to properly characterize the contamination in the aquifer. The consistency of the results of the analysis was also checked for the Milan FUA (Italy) by a comparison to a previous study, performed through an inverse numerical modelling approach within a Monte Carlo statistical framework to identify the areas with the highest likelihood to host potential multiple-point sources.
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