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Groundwater quality assessment and pollution source apportionment in an intensely exploited region of northern China

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Deterioration in groundwater quality has attracted wide social interest in China. In this study, groundwater quality was monitored during December 2014 at 115 sites in the Hutuo River alluvial-pluvial fan region of northern China. Results showed that 21.7% of NO3 and 51.3% of total hardness samples exceeded grade III of the national quality standards for Chinese groundwater. In addition, results of gray relationship analysis (GRA) show that 64.3, 10.4, 21.7, and 3.6% of samples were within the I, II, IV, and V grades of groundwater in the Hutuo River region, respectively. The poor water quality in the study region is due to intense anthropogenic activities as well as aquifer vulnerability to contamination. Results of principal component analysis (PCA) revealed three major factors: (1) domestic wastewater and agricultural runoff pollution (anthropogenic activities), (2) water-rock interactions (natural processes), and (3) industrial wastewater pollution (anthropogenic activities). Using PCA and absolute principal component scores-multivariate linear regression (APCS-MLR), results show that domestic wastewater and agricultural runoff are the main sources of groundwater pollution in the Hutuo River alluvial-pluvial fan area. Thus, the most appropriate methods to prevent groundwater quality degradation are to improve capacities for wastewater treatment and to optimize fertilization strategies.

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The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 41401593), and the Natural Science Foundation of Hebei Province of China (No. D2015504008), a financial allocation project of Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, China (No. B201504), and the Fundamental Research Funds of the Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences (No. SK201612).

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Correspondence to Qianqian Zhang.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Zhang, Q., Wang, H., Wang, Y. et al. Groundwater quality assessment and pollution source apportionment in an intensely exploited region of northern China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 16639–16650 (2017).

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  • Groundwater quality
  • Anthropogenic activities
  • Pollution source
  • Source apportionment