Groundwater resources are facing increasing pressure especially in semi-arid regions where they often represent the main freshwater resource to sustain human needs. Several aquifers in the Mediterranean basin suffer from salinization and quality degradation. This study provides an assessment of Grombalia coastal aquifer (Tunisia) based on multidisciplinary approach that combines chemical and isotopic (δ2
C and δ13
C) methods to characterize the relation between groundwater quality variation and aquifer recharge. The results indicate that total dissolved solids exceed 1000 mg/L in the most of samples excepting the recharge area. In addition to water–rock interaction, evaporation and nitrate pollution contributing to groundwater mineralization, the reverse cation exchange process constitute an important mechanism controlling groundwater mineralization with enhancing risk of saltwater intrusion. Environmental isotope tracers reveal that groundwater is evolving within an open system to close system. A significant component of recent water that is recharging Grombalia aquifer system is confirmed by applying correction models based on the δ13
C values and 14
C activities and tritium contents. However, this recharge, which is mainly associated to the return flow of irrigation water, contributes to the groundwater salinization, especially for the shallow aquifer.
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