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Mynd 1. Ársmeðaltöl af sýrustigi í árvatnssýnum í Reyðarfirði fyrir árin 2006 og 2015 til 2019.

Figure 1. Annual average acidity (pH) was measured in samples from rivers in Reyðarfjörður from the year 2006 (background level) and 2015 to 2021.

Mynd 2. Ársmeðaltöl af styrk flúors (mg/L) í árvatnssýnum og Grænavatni í Reyðarfirði fyrir árin 2006 og 2015 til 2020.

Figure 2. Annual average fluorine (mg/L) content was measured in samples from rivers and Grænavatn lake in Reyðarfjörður from the year 2006 (background level) and 2014 to 2021.

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Mynd 3. Söfnunarstaðir fyrir vatn og snjó í Reyðarfirði

Figure 3. Sampling locations (W1, W2, W3, and W4) for water and snow in Reyðarfjörður.

Table 1. Acidity (pH) and fluorine (F) values were measured in surface water near the Alcoa Fjarðaál smelter (fluorine measured as mg F/L). Average measurements from sampling locations (W1-W4).
  Acidity (pH) Fluorine (F)
2007 7,39 0,034
2008 7,22 0,034
2009 7 0,077
2010 7,07 0,05
2011 7,01 0,05
2012 7,29 0,031
2013 7,27 0,038
2014 7,41 0,024
2015 7,32 0,031
2016 7,41 0,032
2017 7,39 0,037
2018 7,35 0,028
2019 7,43 0,033
2020 7,36 0,029
2021 7,35 0,030

Updated: May 5, 2022
Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál (2022) 

Metrics, Targets and Monitoring Protocol

What is measured?

Concentrations (mg/l) of phosphorous (P), fluoride (F), chlorine (Cl), and sulfate (SO4) in groundwater and surface water at established sample locations at the smelter site and near the smelter outfall. (Project effect: indirect).

Monitoring Protocol

Soil samples (groundwater) will be collected and analyzed for concentration of F, Cl, SO4, and pH (sampling protocols yet to be determined as per A. W. Davison)

  • Surface water is collected and analyzed for concentrations of F, SO4, Cl, heavy metals, PAH-16, alkalinity, and pH.

Data is collected according to this schedule:

  • Groundwater: Every year 2004-2008.
  • Surface water: Every three months from 2005-2008.
  • Surface snow and snowmelt: Every year from 2005-2008.

Targets for constituents in surface water and groundwater to be based on baseline study results.

Possible countermeasures

The companies can arrange their activity and make improvements if pollution is over permissive limits.

Changes of indicator

This indicator was originally number 22.2. It was then named Groundwater and Surface Water Quality at the Smelter and can be found under that number in the project documents from 2005 and 2006.

The indicator number has been changed twice.

Table 2. Changes to name and number of indicator
Year Nr. Indicator name
2020 2.1.1 Groundwater and surface water
2007 2.1 Groundwater and surface water quality at the smelter



Figure 4. Annual average acidity (pH) measured in samples from rivers in Reyðarfjörður, 2005-2007.
Figure 5. Annual average fluorine (mg/L) content measured in samples from rivers and Grænavatn lake in Reyðarfjörður, 2005-2007.


Rationale for Indicator Selection

Currently, 95% of the freshwater used in Iceland is untreated groundwater. The remaining freshwater is a combination of treated and untreated surface water. Because the majority of the Icelandic population uses untreated potable water, maintaining acceptable water quality standards is vital to the sustainability of the local communities. The presence of industrial facilities creates the potential for direct contamination of local groundwater. All facility discharges (solid, liquid, gaseous) have the potential to influence water quality.

From phase I/II report on indicators and baseline from April 2005

Further reading

You can view more material related to the indicator by clicking on the link above.