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The water on a small karst island: The island of Korčula (Croatia) as an


Article  in  Environmental Earth Sciences · July 2012

DOI: 10.1007/s12665-011-1345-9


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3 authors:

Ognjen Bonacci Igor Ljubenkov

University of Split Water Development Ltd. Split, Croatia


Snježana Knezić
University of Split


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The water on a small karst island: the
island of Korčula (Croatia) as an example

Ognjen Bonacci, Igor Ljubenkov &

Snježana Knezić

Environmental Earth Sciences

ISSN 1866-6280
Volume 66
Number 5

Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345-1357

DOI 10.1007/s12665-011-1345-9

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Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357
DOI 10.1007/s12665-011-1345-9


The water on a small karst island: the island of Korčula (Croatia)

as an example
Ognjen Bonacci • Igor Ljubenkov • Snježana Knezić

Received: 16 January 2011 / Accepted: 31 August 2011 / Published online: 16 September 2011
 Springer-Verlag 2011

Abstract The island of Korčula, which has an area of Introduction

271.47 km2 is located along the north-eastern coast of the
Adriatic Sea. Due to the Mediterranean climate, size and An island can be defined as a landmass surrounded by the
karst geology its water resources are very scarce. This sea with an area that is little compared to the global land
paper describes the natural features of the island (air surface. It is a hydrologically circumscribed unit, whose
temperature, precipitation, geology, hydrogeology and inflows and outflows are local (Bonacci 1991). Therefore,
groundwater) which are important for the water appearance an island requires a specific approach to hydrological
and its distribution in time and space. The water supply investigation and water resources management. This
of the island has been managed in the following ways: especially refers to areas with a serious water deficit such
through a pipeline from the mainland, by drawing as the small karst and the Mediterranean islands in par-
groundwater and by rain harvesting. Tourism causes high ticular (Vacher and Quinn 1997; Zacharias and Koussouris
seasonal water needs which are barely met by the existing 2000; Gikas and Tchobanoglous 2009).
water supply system. Therefore, present water resource According to a definition accepted by UNESCO (Diaz
management on the island must be improved. The paper Arenas and Febrillet Huertas 1986), small islands in
also presents mathematical programming scheme to get hydrological terms are those whose water resources are
optimal costs and benefits of water exploitation on the very scarce. These islands have areas of less than
island. Besides economic aspect, linear programming is 1,000 km2. For Diaz Arenas and Febrillet Huertas (1986)
applied to social and ecological objectives, as well. This very small islands have areas less than 100 km2 or a width
study suggests that island’s water management should be no greater than 3 km.
primarily based on wisely using its proper water resources. Falkenmark and Chapman (1989) distinguish high and
flat islands from the hydrological point of view. The water
Keywords Small karst island  Precipitation  resources of high islands are greater than those of low
Air temperature  Groundwater  Water supply  islands. Flat karstic islands are critically dependent on the
Linear programming  Korčula Island (Croatia) resources of thin freshwater lenses overlying seawater
within bedrock aquifers. A major consideration is the
occurrence and control of the behaviour of their freshwater
lens system. Korčula belongs to flat islands.
O. Bonacci (&)  S. Knezić
University of Split, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Owing to very high infiltration rates, especially in the
Architecture, Matice hrvatske 15, 21000 Split, Croatia bare karst which covers the Croatian islands, overland and
e-mail: obonacci@gradst.hr surface flow is rare. At the same time the numerous
S. Knezić and extremely varied micro, mezzo and macro surface and
e-mail: knezic@gradst.hr underground karst forms make unexpected water connec-
tions possible. Due to the extreme permeability of coastal
I. Ljubenkov
GRAD INVEST, Mosećka 52, 21000 Split, Croatia karst terrain, serious issues of seawater intrusion into karst
e-mail: iljubenkov@gmail.com island freshwater aquifers appear, especially during the

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1346 Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357

long, hot and dry summer periods typical of the Mediter- management in the near future. In order to achieve the
ranean climate. optimum island water resources exploitation the linear
The first unavoidable step in the water resources man- programming (LP) method is used.
agement of each island is a detailed investigation of its
proper hydrological cycle. For successful water resources
management it is necessary to determine the available Study area geography and geology
amounts of water which has a wide annual variation. One
serious issue for island water resources management is that The island of Korčula is located along the north-eastern
the needs of all users are unfavourably distributed in time. Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea (Fig. 1). The island is
The highly developed tourism during the summer time located between 42 530 and 42 590 N and 16 380 and 17
causes high seasonal water needs. At the same time, the 120 E. The minimum distance from the continental part of
needs for agricultural purposes are high (in its maximum), Croatia is 1,270 m from the Pelješac Peninsula (Fig. 1). It
but natural water resources are limited (in its minimum). is a typical elongated island stretching in an E–W direction,
The methodology of balancing water supplies in insular with a length of 46.8 km. The width varies between 5.3 and
conditions has been described by Sokolov and Chapman 7.8 km with an average of 6 km.
(1974) and Verhoog (1987). According to Verhoog (1987), Figure 2 is a topographic map of the island which indi-
groundwater is the most important water reserve for cates two meteorological, four rain gauging stations and four
islands, but it is not the most appropriate form for keeping. largest poljes. The mean elevation of the island is 145 m
Due to this fact the construction of surface accumulations above sea level (m a.s.l.). Figure 3 shows the hypsometric
on islands has been proposed. Many authors emphasize the curve of the island while indicating the altitude of the five
need to use unconventional sources as much as possible: gauging stations. The island of Korčula is a gently hilly area.
desalination of sea and/or brackish water, rain harvesting as Its highest point is the peak of Klupca with an elevation of
well as reuse and recycling waste water are economically 569 m a.s.l. From the highest central part of the island, series
and ecologically more acceptable solutions (Bonacci 1991; of karst recesses dip gradually towards the east and west. The
Zacharias and Koussouris 2000; Charalambous 2001; length of the coastline is 190.74 km and is well indented with
Tsagarakis et al. 2004; Gikas and Tchobanoglous 2009). numerous bays and coves (Duplančić Leder et al. 2004).
Bonacci and Roje-Bonacci (2003) criticized water The current name of Korčula derives from the Greek
management solutions on Croatian islands prevalent in the name Korkyra melaina, which refers to the dense pine and
second part of the 20th century. These solutions insist on holm oak woods of the island. The island has been popu-
long pipelines from the mainland. Each island has its own lated for almost 3,000 years. Vela Luka, Blato, Čara,
water resources that should be carefully investigated and Pupnat and Korčula are the main and typically small
monitored. Island water management should be primarily Mediterranean towns (Fig. 2). The annual number of
based on wisely using its proper water resources. Terzić tourists is more than 150,000, with about 750,000 tourist
(2006) elaborated on the hydrogeological characteristics of days per year, mainly in the summer season. The economy
the Adriatic islands and the use of groundwater exploita- of the island is centred on tourism, industry, agriculture and
tion as a successful form of water supply. fishing.
With an area of 271.47 km2, the island of Korčula is one Korčula Island is a part of the large area of the Outer
of the ten largest Croatian Adriatic Sea islands and has a Dinaric ranges, which is characterized by very deep and
population of 16,128 inhabitants according to the 2001 irregular karstification and strongly influenced by tectonics,
population census. During three summer months more than compression, reverse faults and overthrusting structures
150,000 tourists visit it, which causes great problems for the (Terzić et al. 2010). It is created by limestone and dolomite
existing water supply system. The water appearance as well that accumulated between the Lower and Upper Cretaceous
as the water resources management in Korčula is a typical periods from about 70–145 million years ago.
example for all Adriatic Sea karst islands and for most of The broader area belongs to the tectonic unit of South
other karst Mediterranean islands. They are ecologically and Dalmatian islands (Terzić 2006). The island of Korčula is
socially very vulnerable landscapes (Bonacci et al. 2009). an anticline with asymmetrical wings. Structure strike
The main objective of this paper is to describe the water direction (including layers) of the whole island is Hvaric
appearance and water supply management on one small (E–W). The whole area is tectonically well disturbed,
Mediterranean karst island. The paper focuses on water which is the result of wrinkling processes in its Mesozoic
resources problems. The existence of an increasing trend in and Tertiary layers. Tectonic activity in this area occurred
air temperature and a decreasing trend in precipitation during the Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous periods,
which has been noticed on Korčula is stressed. These in the transitional period between the Upper Cretaceous
trends can cause dangerous problems in water resources and the Tertiary (when basic tectonic units were formed)

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Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357 1347

Fig. 1 Location maps of the

study area with cross section
A–A, and the locations of
meteorological stations Vela
Luka (1) and Korčula (2)

Fig 10


1 BP
VMK 569 m

2 372 m

200 m 4
350 m 3 200 m DBP

0 5 km

Fig. 2 Topographic map of the island of Korčula with two meteorological stations (1 Vela Luka, 5 Korčula), three rain gauging stations (2 Blato,
3 Čara, 4 Pupnat) and four largest poljes (BP Blato Polje, VMK Velika and Mala Kapja, CP Čarsko Polje, DBP Donje Blato Polje)

and during the Upper Eocene (maximum). During the Quaternary sediments (mostly fertile soil ‘‘terra rossa’’)
Tertiary and Quaternary periods, structures which formed appear in the poljes, which are the major places where
in the Upper Eocene finally acquired their present form. On intensive agricultural production is organized.
the small island of Korčula all surface and underground
karst forms, features and phenomena can be found (karren,
ponor or sinkhole, dry valley, polje, jama, karst channels, Study area climatology, hydrology and hydrogeology
cave, karst spring, vrulja or submarine spring, estavelle,
swallow-hole, etc.) (Bögli 1980; Bonacci 1987). Insular and coastal areas of Dalmatia, including the island
The appearance, circulation and retention of water are of Korčula, have a Mediterranean climate with mild and wet
governed by the geological composition of the island. winters and hot and dry summers. Climatological elements

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1348 Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357

600 the 20th century. A number of papers include similar

Klupca 569 m a.s.l.
Elevation (m a.s.l.)

500 conclusions (Kumar et al. 2005; Bonacci et al. 2008; Levi

2008; Li 2010).
400 4
At the same time it should be noted that mean annual
300 temperatures at the western part of the island (Vela Luka)
200 3 is on an average 1C less than at the eastern part (Korčula).
2 The distance between these two stations is only 33.5 km,
and their altitudes are the same at 15 m a.s.l. This differ-
0 50 100 150 200 250 ence can be explained by the fact that the whole western
Area (km ) 2
A = 271.47 km part of the island is under the influence of the open sea,
while the climate of the eastern part of the island, as well as
Fig. 3 Hypsometric curve of the island of Korčula while indicating the location of the Korčula gauging station, is under the
the altitude of five gauging stations (numbers as in Fig. 2)
strong influence of the continental massive.
Figure 5 shows the differences of mean annual tem-
have been measured since 1948 at the following two perature DT between Korčula and Vela Luka for the fol-
meteorological stations on the eastern and western coasts of lowing three sub-periods, defined using the rescaled
the island: Korčula and Vela Luka (Figs. 1, 2). Besides adjusted partial sums (RAPS) method (Garbrecht and
these two meteorological stations, three rain gauges operate Fernandez 1994; Bonacci et al. 2008): (1) 1948–1964; (2)
in Čara, Blato and Pupnat, which are located in the central 1965–1986; (3) 1987–2008. In the first sub-period the
part of the island (Fig. 2). Table 1 provides the basic data average difference was 0.37C. In the second it increased
for the five previously mentioned gauging stations. to 0.82C. In the third it is 1.34C, which features a sta-
Absolute instantaneous temperatures measured at the tistically significant increasing linear trend. Figure 6 pre-
two above-mentioned meteorological stations in the period sents an annual time series of the differences in mean
of 1948–2008 vary between the minimum values of -4.5C monthly temperature DT between Korčula and Vela Luka
and -7.8C to the maximum values of 37.0C and 39.0C at for three previously defined sub-periods. The maximum
Korčula and Vela Luka, respectively. The coldest month is differences between the temperatures at two analysed sta-
January, with an average temperature of 9.0C and 7.5C (at tions are in January, while minimum are in June. It should
Korčula and Vela Luka, respectively). The warmest month be noted that only from May to August in the first sub-
is July, with an average temperature of 25.1C and 24.8C period (1948–1964) temperatures were higher in Vela Luka
(at Korčula and Vela Luka, respectively). than in Korčula. The air temperature regime in two ana-
Figure 4 depicts the time data of mean annual air tem- lysed stations of the island is unexpectedly different. One
peratures for Korčula and Vela Luka for the period of specific issue could be that the trend of increasing tem-
1948–2008, and it includes linear and nonlinear (polyno- peratures as well as the difference between temperatures at
mial) trend lines. The linear trend of Korčula shows a the two stations is going to accelerate very fast. There are
statistically significant increase (averaging 0.0185C/year), several possible explanations of this unusual behaviour,
while for Vela Luka it shows a statistically non-significant starting with quite possible systematic mistakes in mea-
decrease. It is evident from Fig. 4 that polynomial trend sured data or local changes close to the station such as
better describes the behaviour of the mean annual air asphalting the road, vegetation growing etc. Also it should
temperatures during the analysed period. Using polynomial be connected with the different influence of the open sea
trend lines it is possible to conclude that increases in the air and the continent on the global warming process.
temperatures started at booth stations in 1980s and con- Relative humidity changes very little during the year due
tinues to the present. This can be explained as a conse- to the proximity of the sea. Monthly averages are about 71%.
quence of global warming, which intensified at the end of It is the lowest in the summer period from July to August

Table 1 Basic data for

No. in Fig. 2 Station Latitude Longitude Elevation Distance from
meteorological and rain gauging
name (m a.s.l.) the sea (km)
stations on the island of Korčula
1 Vela Luka 42570 2800 16430 1200 15 0.5
0 00
2 Blato 4256 24 16470 0300 65 2.8
3 Čara 42560 0100 16550 5300 110 2.1
4 Pupnat 42560 5900 17020 1900 320 2.6
5 Korčula 42570 4000 17070 5400 15 0.1

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Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357 1349

Fig. 4 Time series of mean

annual air temperatures for
Korčula and Vela Luka with
linear and nonlinear trend lines
for the period of 1948–2008

Fig. 5 Differences of mean

annual temperature DT between
Korčula and Vela Luka for three

(about 65%) and highest in the autumn and winter periods

between October and January (about 75%). The relative
humidity is practically the same at both gauging stations.
Figure 7 features two time series of the annual rainfalls
in Korčula and Vela Luka with linear trend lines in the
period of 1948–2008. The linear trends of Korčula and
Vela Luka show a statistically significant decrease of an
average of 3.68 and 3.98 mm/year, respectively. The
decreasing trend is very high and dangerous from the point
of view of the water resources management.
Korčula’s annual precipitations are in average 211 mm
higher than in Vela Luka. This can be explained by the
influence of continental topography. Figure 8 shows a map
of the island with designated mean annual areal precipi-
Fig. 6 Annual time series of the differences in mean monthly tation in the period of 1948–2008, estimated by the uni-
temperature DT between Korčula and Vela Luka for three sub-periods versal kriging method (Bras and Rodriguez-Iturbe 1984;

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1350 Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357

Fig. 7 Time series of the

annual rainfalls at Korčula and
Vela Luka with linear and
nonlinear trend lines in the
period of 1948–2008

Fig. 8 Map of the island of

Korčula with designated mean 10

annual areal precipitation (mm)

in the period of 1948–2008

Y (km)

estimated by the universal

kriging method 5

X (km)
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45

Kitanidis 1997). The average areal precipitation on the constant north-western wind of moderate force and
island is 924 mm. Precipitation is unequally distributed velocity.
throughout the year. Most precipitation falls during the The World Meteorological Organization (Bogardi et al.
colder part of the year, between October and March, with 1994) defines a drought as a prolonged absence or defi-
an average of 68% of the total precipitation. The least ciency of precipitation. The characteristics and conse-
amount of precipitation falls in hot summer between June quences of drought in the Mediterranean area have been
and August with an average of 12%. In some years, rainfall described by many authors (Bonaccorso et al. 2003;
is absent during these summer months altogether. Figure 9 Vicente-Serrano 2006, 2007; Cancelliere et al. 2007).
depicts the mean monthly precipitation and temperature Drought on the island of Korčula has been analysed
fluctuations for Korčula and Vela Luka during the period of using following three methods: (1) standard precipitation
1948–2008, presented in the form of Walter’s climate index; (2) decile method; and (3) Palmer method (Palmer
diagram (Walter et al. 1975). These diagrams point to a 1965). It is found that the monthly precipitation of less than
very pronounced wetness in the autumn–winter period and 25 mm indicates a dry month. The definite conclusion is
aridity in the vegetation period, especially from May to that every year the island of Korčula suffers from drought,
September. This fact causes trouble for water resources which can last up to 7 months.
management, especially regarding the organization of Permanent surface flow does not appear on the island
intensive agricultural production. due to the high infiltration rates of karst terrain. Most
There are several kinds of winds of different frequency rainfall water sinks through the porous terrain and reaches
and strength blowing in this region, and the most important underground. This is proven by numerous vruljas (sub-
ones are: the bora, the south-eastern ‘‘jugo’’ and the mis- marine springs), especially along the northern and southern
tral. The bora is a very cold and dry wind which usually coast of the island. There are about 20 small ponds on the
blows in strong gushes from the mainland toward the sea island. A few of them are permanently full with water
and lasts for several days (Yoshino 1976). The most fre- throughout the year, while others run dry in summer.
quent wind is the south-eastern ‘‘jugo’’. It carries warm There are 15 karst poljes (Bonacci 2004) on the island of
humid air from the southern Mediterranean region. The Korčula. The four largest are Donje Blato Polje (DBP)
mistral often blows in the warmer part of the year. It is a (Fig. 2), situated on the eastern edge; Čarsko Polje (CP)

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Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357 1351

KORCULA VELALUKA Mali Studenac estavelle from where the water surpluses are
16.5°C 15.6°C
60 1049.2mm 838.5mm 180 directed into the tunnel.
The main water-bearing rock is limestone. The hydro-


50 150
geological role of the dolomites is different. Their perme-
40 120
ability is much smaller than the permeability of the
PK surrounding limestone, and very often serves as hydro-
30 90 logical barriers.
Hydrogeological relations are generally a consequence
20 P VL 60 of the geological setting. There are some hydrogeological
TK barriers especially in the area of the karst poljes. A karst
10 30
aquifer is situated below the broader area of the Blato Polje
0 0 (Figs. 10, 11) (Bačani et al. 2006; Terzić et al. 2007). Its
I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII catchment area is estimated at 22 km2. It is made of kars-
MONTH tified carbonate rocks, mostly from the Cretaceous period.
The freshwater lens of the island is a dynamic system
Fig. 9 Walter’s climate diagram for Korčula (TK mean monthly
temperature, PK mean monthly precipitation) and Vela Luka (TVL maintained by rainfall, with a net flow from the aquifer
mean monthly temperature, PVL mean monthly precipitation) for the toward the sea coast. When the discharge rate of freshwater
period of 1948–2008 to the coast decreases the sea intrusion moves further in the
island. The extent of intrusion is greater for the higher
permeability of the karst aquifer. Groundwater reserves are
and Velika and Mala Kapja (VMK) (Fig. 2), situated in the generally limited. According to the investigations of
central part; and Blato Polje (BP) (Figs. 2, 10), situated in Vacher (1997), it is because of large hydraulic conductivity
the western part of the island. that the small carbonate islands lenses have thickness-to-
The Donje Blato Polje is flooded almost every year in width ratios of around 0.01. Because of the slab-like
the winter period due to the insufficient capacity of swal- geometry of island freshwater lens, the shoreward flow of
low holes. It has an area of 1.0 km2. There is a pond in the fresh groundwater is nearly horizontal. The exploitation of
central part of the field, which is about 450 m from the sea. groundwater is located around the Blato Polje due to the
This pond has a diameter of 15 m and its bottom elevation fact that few temporary karst springs exist in it, and that
is 0 m a.s.l. It is connected with the sea through the karst water is needed for urban use and intensive agricultural
underground and it functions as an estavelle (Ljubenkov production in this polje.
et al. 2010). Investigation of geology and groundwater behaviour on
The Čarsko Polje is a typical small karst polje with an Korčula has shown that a confining impervious layer at
area of 1.35 km2 and topographic catchment of about some depth below sea level does not allow a full freshwater
9.6 km2. It is located at an altitude of 90 m a.s.l. Hydro- lens to develop. The variability of the transition zone of the
geological investigations have be done, but low abundance lens is very high and it strongly depends on natural (pre-
of groundwater (less than 1.0 L/s) on the two bores has cipitation) and anthropogenic (quantity of groundwater
been found. Therefore, these bores are not used for water pumping) influences.
supply. The polje is almost completely used for agriculture Since the middle of the 20th century, the karst ground-
(mainly vineyards). water resources of the island are systematically exploited
The Velika and Mala Kapja Polje have an area of only in the Blato Polje. A few decades ago there was a
1.37 km2 at an altitude of 120 m a.s.l. The polje is mainly municipal well in the Velo Polje, close to the Blato Polje,
careless. Its topographic catchment area is about 8.4 km2. but it was abandoned due to the faecal pollution. The
The Blato Polje is a typical small karst polje with an groundwater from this aquifer is pumped from four wells,
area of 2.19 km2. It is located at an altitude of 7 m a.s.l. which are designated in Fig. 10. Besides these four muni-
The topographic catchment of the polje covers about cipal wells there are numerous uncontrolled private wells
10.8 km2. Figure 10 is the map of the Blato Polje with the used for irrigation. The distance of these four wells from
position of the tunnel delivering the flood water directly the Adriatic Sea coast varies between 2,310 m (Gugić) to
from the polje into the Adriatic Sea. It was drilled in 1912. 3,400 m (Prcalo). The maximum individual pumping
The polje is drained by a network of surface canals and is capacity for Studenac, Prcalo, Prbako and Gugić wells are
used for agricultural production. All the canals provide 60, 5, 23 and 8 L/s, respectively (Bačani et al. 2006). The
surface water toward to the tunnel. Actually, the tunnel maximum simultaneous yield for all four wells is about
completely eliminates floods. During the wet winter peri- 65 L/s. Terzić et al. (2007) reported that about
ods water is present in canals and in small ‘‘lake’’ in the 1.0 9 106 m3 of groundwater per year is drawn from the

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1352 Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357

Fig. 10 Location map of the

Blato Polje with the locations
of four municipal wells 0 1 km
(1 Studenac, 2 Prbako, 3 Gugić,
4 Prcalo), springs (permanent,
temporary, submarine and
brackish), ponor (swallow hole),
estavelle and drainage tunnel Sea

p o lj e 2 1 3




B B'

(m) (m)
300 Sea Sea 300
100 100
0 0


Fig. 11 Hydrological section B–B0

Blato Polje aquifer for public water supply and about 0.08 are extremely unfavourable, there is a significant salinity
9 106 m3/year for irrigation. increase in the pumped water. Table 2 gives the minimum,
In the summer period, extracted water is brackish and mean and maximum groundwater level (GWL) and salinity
due to this reason it cannot be used for irrigation. It seems measured from 13 June 2002 to 31 Dec. 2003 at four
that the great influence of seawater intrusion in some wells municipal wells in the Blato Polje. Groundwater salinity
indicates that they are too close to the coast line, and that depends on many factors, such as climate, aquifer geology
the width of the island is small, only 6 km. In this case the and hydrogeology, existence of underground karst features
Ghyben–Herzberg relation should be interpreted as an (conduits, caves, jamas, etc.) vegetation and pumping
attempt to determine the delineation between freshwater in (White and Falkland 2010; Terzić et al. 2010). Table 3
the island aquifer and the seawater. represents the matrix of the linear correlation coefficients
Since the Blato Polje has low altitudes, the groundwater (r) for GWL and the salinity between four wells in the
level varies from close to the surface (6–7 m a.s.l.) in the Blato Polje. The values of the coefficients for GWL
winter to almost sea level in the summer, during maximal between the four wells vary over a relatively large range
extraction. When hydrological conditions and extractions from 0.43 to 0.88. The values of the coefficients for salinity

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Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357 1353

Table 2 Minimum, mean and maximum groundwater level (GWL) and salinity measured from 13 Jun. 2002 to 31 Dec. 2003 at four municipal
wells in the Blato Polje
No. in Well Min. GWL Mean GWL Max. GWL Min. salinity Mean salinity Max. salinity
Fig. 10 name (m a.s.l.) (m a.s.l.) (m a.s.l.) (mg/l) (mg/l) (mg/l)

1 Studenac 0.88 1.71 5.15 102 547 2,820

2 Prbako 0.00 1.23 5.06 186 542 1,260
3 Gugić 0.40 1.41 3.10 78 641 4,100
4 Prcalo 0.74 2.35 6.61 192 503 1,282

Table 3 Matrix of the linear

No. in Fig. 10 Well name Studenac Prbako Gugić Prcalo
correlation coefficients (r) for
GWL (?) and salinity (*) 1 Studenac 0.61 (?) 0.88 (?) 0.50 (?)
between municipal wells in the
Blato Polje measured from 13 2 Prbako 0.86 (*) 0.43 (?) 0.79 (?)
June 2002 to 31 Dec. 2003 3 Gugić 0.80 (*) 0.71 (*) 0.45 (?)
4 Prcalo 0.86 (*) 0.95 (*) 0.70 (*)

vary over a narrow range between 0.70 and 0.95. The GWL linear programming (LP) which is nowadays implemented
reacts more rapidly in wells connected to main karst con- world-wide in tackling a wide range of technical/techno-
duits compared to the wells connected to a system of a logical problems as well as use and exploitation of water
small karst fractures (Drogue 1980, 1985). There is an resources. Numerous research papers deal with optimiza-
evidence of karst conduits existence between the polje and tion of water supply system by estimating pipeline profiles
submarine springs. with minimum water distribution costs (Alperovits and
Shamir 1977; Kessler and Shamir 1989; Hoppel and
Viessman 1972). Jacovkis et al. (1989) offer a general
The use of linear programming in water resources mathematical model of multifunctional water resources
management exploitation by applying the method of linear programming.
Subsequently, they present the application of the model in
In the past, public cisterns for rain harvesting were con- the hydro-electric power system of River Andean in
structed at the island’s main locations. Since the 1980s, Argentina. Voivontas et al. (2003) set the model of opti-
water supply in the eastern part of the island has been mum water supply of the island of Paros with minimum
managed by bringing water from the mainland and across costs of transportation. Besides typical task of cost mini-
the Pelješac Peninsula through a 58-km long pipeline. Along mization, the application of LP in this paper gives addi-
the way, water rises several times to elevations of about tional aspect of water resources system optimization and
350 m because of the configuration of the terrain. Also, this directly includes social aspect of water use on the island of
route has two submarine sections: mainland-Pelješac and Korčula through benefits for population. Kondili et al.
Pelješac-Korčula. On an average 2.5 9 106 m3/year is (2010) present the application of the LP method in the
captured in the mainland spring. optimum water supply of Greek islands, with maximum
A main pipeline is currently under construction with the economic effects that could be seen as introduction of such
aim of connecting the eastern and western parts of the aspects. This application goes further and takes into account
island into an integrated water supply system. Unfortu- social and ecological benefits. It is very important, partic-
nately, the losses of the existing water supply system are ularly in insular conditions where subsistence of population
about 65%, which is 2.3 9 106 m3, while annual con- primarily depends on water supply. Uddameri and Kucha-
sumption reaches about 1.2 9 106 m3. nur (2007) applied LP scheme to estimate maximum
When dealing with water resources management the available groundwater in the Refugio County, Texas, with
usual goal is to develop optimal management solutions constrains which included environmental protection such as
regarding many different aspects of water use. Conse- prevention of saltwater intrusion in the aquifer and main-
quently, various optimization techniques have been in use tenance groundwater flow towards streams to sustain
for years. The main objective of the developed methods was baseflows during dry periods. Zhou et al. (2003) established
to help decision makers solve complex, so called well- a finite element model of groundwater flow in the coastal
defined, problems concerning constrains and criteria that aquifer (Leizhou Peninsula in southern China) in conjunc-
are usually quantitative. Probably the most utilized model is tion with LP model for groundwater exploitation.

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1354 Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357

For the LP method, all available water resources Ri periods). For this example, input values are considered at
(i = 1, …, m) are considered: conventional (groundwater, annual basis.
rain-water harvesting), unconventional (desalination, Table 4 shows the results of LP calculation. Basic water
recycling) and ‘‘external’’ (delivered from the mainland). sources are groundwater and water delivered from the
The resources have to fulfil water demands coming from mainland. Since the goal of this research was to set optimal
different users Sj (j = 1, …, n): inhabitants, tourists, water supply model which includes various water sources,
industry and agriculture (Fig. 12). The goal is to find an optimization for each component separately such as
optimum solution which satisfies water demands. Two groundwater exploitation, is not concerned. The groundwa-
optimization aspects are recognized: minimum water sup- ter is considered to fit present island extraction which is about
ply costs and/or maximum water value. 1.0 9 106 m3/year. At the same time, this value is the
For the first optimization model, minimization of water present capacity of Blato aquifer. Since, the capacity
supply costs, the objective function is defined as follows: depends primarily on hydrogeology and climate, it is obvi-
Xm X n ously reduced due to climate changes. Three additional types
Z¼ cij  xij ! min ð1Þ of water sources that are not in use nowadays are taken into
i¼1 j¼1
account: rain-water, desalinization and waste water recy-
subject to the constrains related to the capacities of cling. Their capacities are estimated and range between
available sources: 50,000 and 300,000 m3. Water resources policy for the
X island of Korčula considers those water sources which are the
xij \xi i ¼ 1; . . .; m ð2Þ basis for the future development of the water supply system.
Besides additional water sources, the model includes water
as well as to the constrains related to recognized water demands for agriculture. Irrigation of approximately
demands: 6.5 km2 with an annual water demand of 1,020,900 m3 is
X expected. The results point to the need of maximum
xij \x j j ¼ 1; . . .; n ð3Þ exploitation of groundwater (R1) and new sources (R3,
R4 i R5) prior to using mainland water (R2), since mainland
where cij stands for the unit cost of water supply and xij for water use has not reached its maximum capacity (Table 4).
the delivered amount of water. The second optimization model considers the problem
The optimization model is applicable to any time scale of optimal exploitation of water resources and is defined as
(monthly, seasonally, annually, or even during long-term maximizing the benefit of water exploitation. For this

Fig. 12 Schematic presentation R5

of the water supply system R4

R3 S2
S3 S1

Table 4 Matrix of delivered

Water quantity (m3/year) Consumer Capacity limitation
water quantities (m3/year)
(min. costs) Urban use Industry Agriculture
S1 S2 S3

Groundwater R1 788,400 120,000 91,600 B1,000,000
Submarine pipe R2 0 0 779,300 B1,000,000
Rain harvest R3 – – 50,000 B50,000
Desalination R4 300,000 0 0 B300,000
Recycling R5 – – 100,000 B100,000
Total demand 1,088,400 120,000 1,020,900

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Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357 1355

purpose a term Total water value is introduced and the higher employment in industry and agriculture. Ecological
objective function is defined as follows: benefits come from higher forest fire safety, but on the
other hand, there are some ecological disadvantages like
max Total water value ¼ max (Total benefit groundwater pollution, seawater intrusion and reduction of
 Total cost): water resources. Each benefit is calculated as a difference
In applying the above-mentioned concept to the island between water acquisition costs in the case of non-exis-
of Korčula, available sources, users and water demands are tence of public water supply system and water acquisition
the same as in the first model. The difference is the costs in the case when it exists. This means that each
objective function Z*, which takes into account both social benefit should be calculated (economic) or transformed
and economic benefits resulting from water usage in the (social and ecological) in the money value thus it can be
analysed system, in this case the island of Korčula: used in the optimization model. Water supply improves
productivity and capacity of island’s economy (industry,
m X
X n m X
X n
agriculture, tourism) and consequently island’s GDP thus
Z ¼ pij  xij  cij  xij ! max; ð4Þ
i¼1 j¼1 i¼1 j¼1
directly influencing socio-economic benefits. Ecological
benefit in fire protection is calculated from island’s recor-
where pij is the unit of water supply benefits, cij is the cost ded forest fire damages. Ecological disadvantages are
unit, and xij is the delivered amount of water. The unit of included in the model through different fees such as a
water supply benefits is composed of three components and water-protection fee, water-usage fee and water-basin fee
is defined as follows: defined by national legislative. Additionally, the aspect of
pij ¼ eij þ dij þ ecij ; ð5Þ environmental protection is included through the constraint
which limits maximum amount of extracted groundwater.
where eij stands for economic benefits, dij for social ben- Calculation procedure of benefits and costs should include
efits and ecij for ecological benefits. Economic benefits economic, social and environmental issues as much as
include: lower water price for inhabitants and tourists, possible, which must be locally analysed and set.
higher industry and agricultural production. Social benefits Tables 5 and 6 show quantities of water coming from
are better public health, subsistence and rise of population, different sources, delivered to three types of consumers, for

Table 5 Matrix of delivered

Water quantity Xij (m3/year) Consumer Capacity limitation
water quantities (m3/year)
(present sources) (max. water Urban use Industry Agriculture
value) S1 S2 S3

Groundwater R1 1,000,000 0 0 B1,000,000
Submarine pipe R2 88,400 120,000 1,020,900 C100,000
Rain harvest R3 – – – =0
Desalination R4 – – – =0
Recycling R5 – – – =0
Total demand 1,088,400 120,000 1,020,900
Value (106 €) 5.35 1.57 0.35 7.27

Table 6 Matrix of delivered

Water quantity Xij (m3/year) Consumer Capacity limitation
water quantities (m3/year)
(future state) (max. water value) Urban use Industry Agriculture
S1 S2 S3

Groundwater R1 908,400 0 91,600 B1,000,000
Submarine pipe R2 0 0 779,300 B1,000,000
Rain harvest R3 – – 50,000 B50,000
Desalination R4 180,000 120,000 0 B300,000
Recycling R5 – – 100,000 B100,000
Total demand 1,088,400 120,000 1,020,900
Value (106 €) 5.32 1.58 0.43 7.33

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1356 Environ Earth Sci (2012) 66:1345–1357

present and future condition, respectively. The last rows of detailed research is needed to understand and explain better
both tables show the socio-economic water value for each the impact of the air temperature rising, precipitation
consumer as well as Total water value for the whole island. decreasing and occurrence of longer and severer droughts.
As presented in Tables 5 and 6, the water value as drinking It is obvious that the Korčula Island has to prepare better
water for residents and tourists on the island is dominant. for unsafe and unfavourable climatic conditions which
On the contrary, as a direct consequence of economy should be expected in the near future.
conditions on the island, water values for industry and Today’s water supply model presents a limited factor for
especially for agriculture are significantly lower. The the Korčula Island development, especially for agriculture.
results of both optimization models point to a need for There are two following ways of searching for improve-
using water sources on the island prior to using ‘‘external’’ ments in water management: (1) Improvement of the
ones, as mainland water source has never got to its maxi- existing water supply system; (2) Increasing exploitation of
mum capacity. A development of new, cost-effective proper resources. Since losses are over 50% in the existing
technologies in desalination and water recycling contrib- water supply system, with reduction of losses to an
utes to more extensive use of water sources on the island. acceptable level, significant improvement can be achieved.
Obviously, these solutions are becoming more acceptable Also, there is a possibility to increase groundwater
from both economical and ecological point of view. Also, extraction by constructing wells in other parts of island,
there is a possibility to increase groundwater extraction by since the Blato Polje aquifer reached its maximum.
constructing wells in other parts of island, since the Blato An application of optimization models to the water
Polje aquifer reached its maximal quantities. Sustainable resources management problems on the island of Korčula
and effective groundwater extraction development must shows that the conventional and unconventional water sour-
incorporate technical facts as well as economic and ecol- ces on the island have an advantage compared to the water
ogy principles (Bonacci et al. 2009; Liou et al. 2009; Vaux delivered from the mainland through long submarine pipe-
2011). lines. Water sources on the island could be considered more
Generally speaking, when searching for optimal solu- acceptable both economically and ecologically. Presented
tions of water resources management, both given objec- optimization model is applicable to any time scale (monthly,
tives should be taken into account: minimum cost and seasonally, annually, or even during long-term periods).
maximum socio-economic benefit. However, these two The aim of this paper is the stimulation of a close
objectives may be in conflict, so depending on common interdisciplinary (hydrologists, hydrogeologists, ecologists,
goals compromise solutions should be fostered. In order to water resources managers etc.) monitoring and co-opera-
make decision-making process as efficient as possible the tion, which would provide better results in the water
analyses of maximum socio-economic benefits may resources management of the island as well as in preserv-
include different scenarios of input variables such as esti- ing its valuable and vulnerable karst ecosystem.
mated water quantities, water demands, the consumers, etc.
A result of such comprehensive analysis is a set of feasible
solutions, and the next step is a selection of the most
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