Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 171, Issue 1, pp 289–308

Evaluation of groundwater quality and its suitability for drinking and agricultural use in Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu, India


    • Department of Science and Mathematics, School of Engineering and ScienceCurtin University of Technology
  • N. Rajmohan
    • Department of Waste Treatment and Conditioning ResearchCommissariat a l’energie atomique (CEA), Centre De Valrho/Marcoule
  • U. Mahendran
    • Department of Civil EngineeringPeriyar Maniammai University
  • S. Senthamilkumar
    • Department of Civil EngineeringPeriyar Maniammai University

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-009-1279-9

Cite this article as:
Nagarajan, R., Rajmohan, N., Mahendran, U. et al. Environ Monit Assess (2010) 171: 289. doi:10.1007/s10661-009-1279-9


As groundwater is a vital source of water for domestic and agricultural activities in Thanjavur city due to lack of surface water resources, groundwater quality and its suitability for drinking and agricultural usage were evaluated. In this study, 102 groundwater samples were collected from dug wells and bore wells during March 2008 and analyzed for pH, electrical conductivity, temperature, major ions, and nitrate. Results suggest that, in 90% of groundwater samples, sodium and chloride are predominant cation and anion, respectively, and NaCl and CaMgCl are major water types in the study area. The groundwater quality in the study site is impaired by surface contamination sources, mineral dissolution, ion exchange, and evaporation. Nitrate, chloride, and sulfate concentrations strongly express the impact of surface contamination sources such as agricultural and domestic activities, on groundwater quality, and 13% of samples have elevated nitrate content (>45 mg/l as NO3). PHREEQC code and Gibbs plots were employed to evaluate the contribution of mineral dissolution and suggest that mineral dissolution, especially carbonate minerals, regulates water chemistry. Groundwater suitability for drinking usage was evaluated by the World Health Organization and Indian standards and suggests that 34% of samples are not suitable for drinking. Integrated groundwater suitability map for drinking purposes was created using drinking water standards based on a concept that if the groundwater sample exceeds any one of the standards, it is not suitable for drinking. This map illustrates that wells in zones 1, 2, 3, and 4 are not fit for drinking purpose. Likewise, irrigational suitability of groundwater in the study region was evaluated, and results suggest that 20% samples are not fit for irrigation. Groundwater suitability map for irrigation was also produced based on salinity and sodium hazards and denotes that wells mostly situated in zones 2 and 3 are not suitable for irrigation. Both integrated suitability maps for drinking and irrigation usage provide overall scenario about the groundwater quality in the study area. Finally, the study concluded that groundwater quality is impaired by man-made activities, and proper management plan is necessary to protect valuable groundwater resources in Thanjavur city.


Groundwater quality Suitability maps Contamination Thanjavur city South India

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