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Authors: D'Alessandro, W.* 
Bellomo, S.* 
Parello, F.* 
Bonfanti, P.* 
Brusca, L.* 
Longo, M.* 
Maugeri, R.* 
Title: Nitrate, sulphate and chloride contents in public drinking-water supplies in Sicily, Italy
Issue Date: 2012
Series/Report no.: /184 (2012)
DOI: 10.1007/s10661-011-2155-y
Keywords: public water supplies
Subject Classification03. Hydrosphere::03.02. Hydrology::03.02.04. Measurements and monitoring 
03. Hydrosphere::03.02. Hydrology::03.02.06. Water resources 
03. Hydrosphere::03.04. Chemical and biological::03.04.03. Chemistry of waters 
Abstract: Water samples collected from public drinking-water supplies in Sicily were analysed for electric conductivity and for their chloride, sulphate and nitrate contents. The samples were collected as uniformly as possible from throughout the Sicilian territory, with an average sampling density of about 1 sample for every 7600 inhabitants. Chloride contents that ranged from 5.53 to 1302 mg/l were correlated strongly with the electric conductivity, a parameter used as a proxy for water salinity. The highest values are attributable to seawater contamination along the coasts of the island. High chloride and sulphate values attributable to evaporitic rock dissolution were found in the central part of Sicily. The nitrate concentrations ranged from 0.05 to 296 mg/l, with 31 samples (4.7% of the total) exceeding the maximum admissible concentration of 50 mg/l. Anomalous samples always came from areas of intensive agricultural usage, indicating a clear anthropogenic origin. The same parameters were also measured in bottled water sold in Sicily, and they all were within the ranges for public drinking-water supplies. The calculated mean nitrate intake from consuming public water supplies (16.1 mg/l) did not differ significantly from that of bottled water (15.2 mg/l). Although the quality of public water supplies needs to be improved by eliminating those that do not comply with the current drinking-water limits, at present it does not justify the high consumption of bottled water (at least for nitrate contents).
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