Integrated Groundwater Management

pp 377-412

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Soil and Aquifer Salinization: Toward an Integrated Approach for Salinity Management of Groundwater

  • Richard GreeneAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University Email author 
  • , Wendy TimmsAffiliated withUNSW School of Mining Engineering
  • , Pichu RengasamyAffiliated withSchool of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Adelaide University
  • , Muhammad ArshadAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Richard CresswellAffiliated withEco Logical Australia


Degradation of the quality of groundwater due to salinization processes is one of the key issues limiting the global dependence on groundwater in aquifers. As the salinization of shallow aquifers is closely related to root-zone salinization, the two must be considered together. This chapter initially describes the physical and chemical processes causing salinization of the root-zone and shallow aquifers, highlighting the dynamics of these processes and how they can be influenced by irrigation and drainage practices, thus illustrating the connectivity between soil and groundwater salinization. The processes leading to aquifer salinization in both inland and coastal areas are discussed. The roles of extractive resource industries, such as mining and coal bed methane operations, in causing aquifer salinization are also outlined. Hydrogeochemical changes occurring during salinization of aquifers are examined with the aid of Piper and Mixing Diagrams. The chapter then illustrates the extent of the problem of groundwater salinization as influenced by management and policy using two case studies. The first is representative of a developing country and explores management of salt-affected soils in the Indus Valley, Pakistan, while the second looks at a developed country, and illustrates how through monitoring we can deduce causes of shallow aquifer salinity in the Namoi Catchment of NSW, Australia. Finally, there is a section on integration and conclusions where we illustrate how management to mitigate salinization needs to be integrated with policy to diminish the threat to productivity that occurs with groundwater degradation.