Assessment of sustainability of groundwater in urban areas (Porto, NW Portugal): a GIS mapping approach to evaluate vulnerability, infiltration and recharge

  • Liliana FreitasEmail author
  • Maria José Afonso
  • Alcides J. S. C. Pereira
  • Cristina Delerue-Matos
  • Helder I. Chaminé
Original Article


The urban water cycle concept demonstrates the connectivity and interdependence of urban water resources and human activities, and the need for integrated sustainable management studies and approaches. The role of climate, geology, geomorphology, land-use/cover, hydrogeochemistry, hydraulics, human activities among other features is significant in urban areas. In addition, land-use development has a stronger influence on terrestrial hydrology than climate variability. The need for provision of safe water, sanitation and drainage systems is key elements to consider for the groundwater resources in complex urban environments. In recent years, a new focus has emerged, addressing issues on integrated GIS mapping studies on urban water supply systems, particularly in historical cities. To illustrate that approach the Porto urban area (NW Portugal) was selected. This work presents a comprehensive study to demonstrate the key importance of urban groundwater studies, as well as the evaluation of the Urban Infiltration Potential Index and the potential groundwater yields that might be available for non-potable uses, such as irrigation of parks and lawns, street cleaning and firefighting. This strategy is useful for the planning and management of urban groundwater abstraction in an equitable and sustainable manner.


Urban groundwater Hydrogeomorphology Vulnerability IPI-Urban Sustainability 



This study was carried out under the framework of the projects LABCARGA|ISEP re-equipment program (IPP-ISEP|PAD’2007/08) and Centre GeoBioTec|UA (UID/GEO/04035/2013). The research was also funded by a doctoral scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) to L. Freitas (SFRH/BD/117927/2016). Special thanks are due to colleagues J. Teixeira and J. M. Carvalho for the inputs in some stages of the research. We acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for the constructive comments that helped to improve the focus of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Cartography and Applied Geology (LABCARGA), Department of Geotechnical Engineering, School of Engineering (ISEP)Polytechnic of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of SciencesCITEUC, University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.REQUIMTE/LAQVInstituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto (ISEP)PortoPortugal
  4. 4.Centre GeoBioTec|UAAveiroPortugal

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