EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Detection and assessment of the emerging contaminants in the Ljubljana Basin, Slovenia – preliminary report

Mateja Jelovčan1, Primož Auersperger2, Mihael Brenčič1,3, Branka Bračič Železnik2, Blaž Pucihar1, Anja Torkar1, and Ines Vidmar1
Mateja Jelovčan et al.
  • 1Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Department of Geology, Aškerčeva 12, 1000 Ljubljana (
  • 2JP Vodovod Kanalizacija Snaga, d. o. o., Vodovodna 90, 1000 Ljubljana
  • 3Geological Survey of Slovenia, Dimičeva ulica 14, 1000 Ljubljana

Recent investigations show presence of anthropogenic substances in surface and groundwater at relatively low concentrations, which nevertheless represent a potential risk to our environment and health. These substances are emerging contaminants, which are synthetic or of natural origin and include: pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial chemicals, surfactants and personal care products. Emerging contaminants are currently very rarely or not at all included in regular monitoring of water bodies.

The boDEREC-CE project deals with the problem of the presence of modern pollutants with the aim of establishing a management strategy for waterworks that guarantees increased quality of drinking water. The project is exploring innovative approaches for monitoring emerging contaminants in 8 pilot action areas in 7 Central European countries.

The Slovenian pilot action area is the Ljubljana Basin; with an area of 815 km2 is the largest closed plane in the country. The basin with its central position represents the most important urban, economy and traffic area in Republic of Slovenia where the main roads and rail connection converge. A total of 40% of Slovenian population lives here.

In comparison to forest and semi natural areas, which cover 22% of the basin, the Ljubljana Basin is mostly covered by areas with activities that may introduce new pollutants into the environment, such as agricultural areas, which cover 55% and artificial surfaces, which cover 20% of the basin. The latter present potential sources of emerging contaminants, such as: sewage network, emissions from industrial facilities, wastewater treatment plants and landfills.

The Ljubljana basin is an important drinking water resource for several cities and other settlements. Drinking water protection zones that protect drinking water sources cover almost a quarter (24%) of the Ljubljana Basin.

In order to develop an innovative approach for monitoring such pollutants in the pilot action area, sampling of surface water (8 sampling points) and groundwater (9 sampling points) is carried out in two phases. In the first phase, passive sampling is carried out with active carbon inserted into a stainless steel mesh, which is installed in a location for approximately 3 months. After collecting the passive samplers, active carbon is dried and the pollutants adsorbed are eluted with dichloromethane. Passive sampling is an analytical method for the qualitative determination of organic pollutants and serves as a preliminary step for the second phase, which represent active sampling by grab samples of surface and groundwater.

The boDEREC-CE project is not only focusing on the direct study of the behavior of emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment, but also on assessing the effectiveness of reducing the pollution. In addition, activities to inform the public about measures to reduce waste of emerging contaminants will be organized.

How to cite: Jelovčan, M., Auersperger, P., Brenčič, M., Bračič Železnik, B., Pucihar, B., Torkar, A., and Vidmar, I.: Detection and assessment of the emerging contaminants in the Ljubljana Basin, Slovenia – preliminary report, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8009,, 2020


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