Karst groundwater vulnerability mapping: application of a new method in the Swabian Alb, Germany
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Groundwater from karst aquifers is an important drinking water resource, which is, however, particularly vulnerable to contamination. Karst aquifers consequently need special protection. This paper discusses the concept of groundwater vulnerability mapping and the special characteristics of karst aquifers that are relevant in this context. On this basis, a new method of groundwater vulnerability mapping is proposed—the PI method. It can be applied for all types of aquifers, but provides special tools for karst. Vulnerability is assessed as the product of two factors: protective cover (P) and infiltration conditions (I). The method was first applied and compared with two other methods (EPIK and the German method) in a test site in the Swabian Alb, Germany. The results obtained with the different methods are discussed and an outlook on the role of vulnerability maps within an overall groundwater protections scheme is given.