Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 313–330

Suitability assessment of shallow and deep groundwaters for drinking and irrigation use in the El Khairat aquifer (Enfidha, Tunisian Sahel)

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12665-011-1091-z

Cite this article as:
Ketata, M., Gueddari, M. & Bouhlila, R. Environ Earth Sci (2012) 65: 313. doi:10.1007/s12665-011-1091-z


The El Khairat aquifer is an important groundwater aquiferous system, which is considered a major source for drinking and irrigation water in Enfidha in Tunisian Sahel. The analysis of groundwater chemical characteristics provides much important information useful in water resources management. Assessing the water quality status for special use is the main objective of any water monitoring studies. An attempt has been made for the first time in this region to appreciate the quality and/or the suitability of shallow and deep groundwater for drinking and irrigation. In order to attend this objective, a total of 35 representative water samples were collected during February 2007 from both boreholes (17) and wells (18); and analyzed for the major cations (sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium) and anions (chloride, sulphate, bicarbonate, and nitrate) along with various physical and chemical parameters (temperature, pH, total dissolved salts, and electrical conductivity). Based on the physico-chemical analyses, irrigation quality parameters like sodium absorption ratio (SAR), residual sodium carbonate (RSC), percentage of sodium (Na%), and permeability index (PI) were calculated. In addition to this, iso-concentration maps were constructed using the geographic information system to delineate spatial variation of qualitative parameters of groundwater samples. The correlation of the analytical data has been attempted by plotting different graphical representations such as Piper, Wilcox, and US Salinity Laboratory for the classification of water. The suitability of the water from the groundwater sources for drinking and irrigation purposes was evaluated by comparing the values of different water quality parameters with World Health Organization guideline values for drinking water. A preliminary hydrochemical characterization shows that most of the groundwater samples fall in the field of calcium–magnesium–chloride–sulphate type of water. Majority of the samples are not suitable for drinking purposes and far from drinking water standards. The high EC value and the percentage of Na in most of the groundwater render it unsuitable for irrigation. Wilcox classification suggested that around 50% of both deep and shallow groundwater samples are unsuitable for irrigation. According to the US Salinity Classification, most of the groundwater is unsuitable for irrigation unless special measures are adopted.


Physico-chemical analysis Hydrogeochemistry Drinking and irrigation utility El Khairat aquifer Tunisia 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mouna Ketata
    • 1
    • 2
  • Moncef Gueddari
    • 1
  • Rachida Bouhlila
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Geochemistry and Environmental Geology, Department of GeologyFaculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences of TunisTunisTunisia
  2. 2.Modelling in Hydraulic and Environment LaboratoryNational Engineers School of TunisTunisTunisia

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