The population concentration in coastal areas and the increase of groundwater discharge in combination with the peculiarities of karstic coastal aquifers constitute a huge worldwide problem, which is particularly relevant for coastal aquifers of the Mediterranean basin. This paper offers a review of scientific activities realized to pursue the optimal utilization of Apulian coastal groundwater. Apulia, with a coastline extending for over 800 km, is the Italian region with the largest coastal karst aquifers. Apulian aquifers have suffered both in terms of water quality and quantity. Some regional regulations were implemented from the 1970s with the purpose of controlling the number of wells, well locations, and well discharge. The practical effects of these management criteria, the temporal and spatial trend of recharge, groundwater quality, and seawater intrusion effects are discussed based on long-term monitoring. The efficacy of existing management tools and the development of predictive scenarios to identify the best way to reconcile irrigation and demands for high-quality drinking water have been pursued in a selected area. The Salento peninsula was selected as the Apulian aquifer portion exposed to the highest risk of quality degradation due to seawater intrusion. The capability of large-scale numerical models in groundwater management was tested, particularly for achieving forecast scenarios to evaluate the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources. The results show qualitative and quantitative groundwater trends from 1930 to 2060 and emphasize the substantial decrease of the piezometric level and a serious worsening of groundwater salinization due to seawater intrusion.
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