Exploring the interaction between precipitation, surface water, and groundwater has been a key subject of many studies dealing with water quality management. The Varaždin aquifer is an example of an area where high nitrate content in groundwater raised public concern, so it is important to understand the aquifer recharge for proper management and preservation of groundwater quality. The NW part of the Varaždin aquifer has been selected for study area, as precipitation, Drava River, accumulation lake, and groundwater interact in this area. In this study, groundwater and surface water levels, water temperature, water isotopes (2
H and 18
O), and chloride (Cl−
) were monitored in precipitation, surface water, and groundwater during the four-year period to estimate groundwater recharge. Head contour maps were constructed based on the groundwater and surface water levels. The results show that aquifer is recharged from both Drava River and accumulation lake for all hydrological conditions–low, mean, and high groundwater levels. The monitoring results of water temperature, chloride content, and stable water isotopes were used as tracers, i.e. as an input to the mixing model for estimation of the contribution ratio from each recharge source. The calculation of mixing proportions showed that surface water is a key mechanism of groundwater recharge in the study area, with a contribution ratio ranging from 55% to 100% depending on the proximity of the observation well to surface water.
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