The coastal aquifers of the Mediterranean region are highly susceptible to seawater intrusion due to a combination of challenges such as land subsidence, high aquifer permeability, urbanization, drainage, and an unsustainable use of water during the dry summer months. The present study is focused on a statistical analysis of groundwater data to evaluate the spatial changes of water level and electrical conductivity in the coastal phreatic aquifer of the Emilia-Romagna (Northeast Italy) for the period from 2009 to 2018. Data from 35 wells distributed across the entire regional coastal area are used to establish a temporal trend, as well as correlations between salinity, water table level, and rainfall. Water table and salinity distribution maps for the entire study area are discussed regarding surface geology and water management. Most of the wells are in the beach wedge sand unit, which allows for easy connectivity between groundwater and surface water. Surface water and groundwater salinization are enhanced along the surface water bodies connected to the sea. The lowest water table level occurs in the western and northern parts of the study area, because of the semiconfined behavior of the aquifer. Only in the northernmost, close to the Po River, and in the southernmost parts of the study area does the groundwater remain fresh for the whole period considered due to river aquifer recharge. In the rest of the region, the thickness of freshwater lenses, where present, is less than 4.5 m. The existence of a water table level below sea level and high saline water at the bottom of the aquifer in most of the study area suggest that the aquifer is in unstable hydrodynamic conditions and groundwater quality is not fit for human consumption or for irrigation. This study is the first to provide a regional overview of the state of groundwater level and salinization within the coastal aquifer of the Emilia-Romagna Region; it also suggests that, overall, the salinization trend has slightly decreased from 2009 to 2018.
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