Groundwater quality in the lower Varuna River basin, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh

Article

Abstract

The lower Varuna River basin in Varanasi district situated in the central Ganga plain is a highly productive agricultural area, and is also one of the fast growing urban areas in India. The agricultural and urbanization activities have a lot of impact on the groundwater quality of the study area. The river basin is underlain by Quaternary alluvial sediments consisting of clay, silt, sand and gravel of various grades. The hydrogeochemical study was undertaken by randomly collecting 75 groundwater samples from dug wells and hand pumps covering the entire basin in order to understand the sources of dissolved ions, and to assess the chemical quality of the groundwater through analysis of major ions. Based on the total dissolved solids, two groundwater samples are considered unsuitable for drinking purpose, but all samples are useful for irrigation. Graphical treatment of major ion chemistry by Piper diagram helps in identifying hydro-geochemical facies of groundwaters and the dominant hydrochemical facies is Ca-Mg-HCO3 with appreciable percentage of the water having mixed facies. As per Wilcox’s diagram and US Salinity laboratory classification, most of the groundwater samples are suitable for irrigation except two samples (No’s 30 and 68) which are unsuitable due to the presence of high salinity and medium sodium hazard. Irrigation waters classified based on residual sodium carbonate, have revealed that all groundwaters are in general safe for irrigation except one sample (No. 27), which needs treatment before use. Permeability index indicates that the groundwater samples are suitable for irrigation purpose.

Although the general quality of groundwater of the lower Varuna River basin is suitable for irrigation purpose, fifty seven percent of the samples are found having nitrate content more than permissible limit (>45 mg/l) which is not good for human consumption. Application of N-Fertilizers on agricultural land as crop nutrients along the Varuna River course may be responsible for nitrate pollution in the groundwater due to leaching by applied irrigation water. The other potential sources of high nitrate concentration in extreme northern, southern and southwestern parts of study area are poor sewerage and drainage facilities, leakage of human excreta from very old septic tanks, and sanitary landfills. The high fluoride contamination (>1.5 mg/l) in some of the samples may be due to the dissolution of micaceous content in the alluvium. Nitrate and fluoride contamination of groundwater is a serious problem for its domestic use. Hence an immediate protective measure must be put into action in the study area.

Keywords

Groundwater quality Hydrogeochemical facies Nitrate pollution Irrigation water Sodium content Varuna River Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 

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Copyright information

© Geological Society of India 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hydrogeology Division, Department of GeologyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

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