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01.06.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 11/2017

Environmental Earth Sciences 11/2017

Analysis of temporal and spatial variations in groundwater nitrate and development of its pollution plume: a case study in Karaj aquifer

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 11/2017
Autoren:
Manouchehr Chitsazan, M. Mohammad Rezapour Tabari, Mehdi Eilbeigi

Abstract

Considering the importance of groundwater resources in water-supply demands in arid and semiarid areas such as Iran, it is essential to investigate the risk of groundwater pollution. Nitrate is one of the main pollutants that penetrate into the groundwater from various sources such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and domestic and industrial sewage. Unfortunately currently, nitrate contamination of the aquifers is a serious problem in Iran. The Karaj aquifer is not exempted, and the nitrate pollution zone, with concentrations far beyond the permitted limit (50 mg/L), expands fast. In this paper, the long-term groundwater-quality data (from 2000 to 2013) collected from Alborz Province Water and Wastewater Company were analyzed using ArcGIS10 and statistical software, and the spatial and temporal patterns of nitrate pollution in drinking-water wells in the Karaj plain and effective parameters (such as depth to groundwater level, hydraulic gradient, land use, precipitation, and urban, agricultural and industrial wastewater) were investigated. The authors also investigated the status of nitrate concentration variation using the concepts of geostatistics, based on determinations from 62 to 194 surveyed wells with a suitable distribution across the plain. With respect to the relationship between quality parameters, hydrogeological status of the aquifer and land usage, causes of the increase in the concentration of nitrate in the water and its trend were investigated as well. Results revealed that the nitrate levels in the northern portion of the study area were the highest with maximum concentrations of 181.7 mg/L from 2000 to 2013. Based on nitrate concentration distribution maps, the levels of nitrate increased from 2006 onwards to 26–100 mg/L. Unfortunately from 2008 to 2012, a pollution zone with a nitrate water concentration of 101–150 mg/L has been observed and even a concentration of 180 mg/L has been determined. In 2000, the entire aquifer area has been drinkable but with the increase in nitrate concentration, the area with undrinkable water has expanded to 21% in 2003, 24% in 2005, 33% in 2007, 39% in 2009, 43% in 2011 and 44% in 2013. The results of this study could provide valuable information with on the status of nitrate water concentrations in the Karaj plain which demands proper strategies and qualitative approaches in the future.

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