Each groundwater body can be characterized by specific hydrogeochemical field. Typically, it varies in space in response to changing lithology of the aquifer and varying pH and redox conditions, but is stationary or quasi-stationary in the temporal domain. Temporal changes of the hydrodynamic field are usually the result of anthropogenic influences.

Characterization of the given hydrogeochemical field can be accomplished by presenting different types of frequency or probability distributions of the observed concentrations of the dissolved constituents. They reflect different processes taking part in the investigated groundwater system, and help to establish groundwater quality criteria.

Quantitative, multi-stage classification of groundwater quality presented in this paper allows a more detailed insight into the chemical status of groundwater and, in consequence, a more flexible management of groundwater bodies. It helps to guard pristine water quality and to detect early stages of deterioration of groundwater quality, thus allowing timely measures to achieve trend reversals.

Acknowledgements This study was partly financed through statutory funds of the AGH University of Science and Technology (Projects No.,

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