Evaluation of hydrogeochemical quality parameters of groundwater under urban activities. Case of Beni Mellal city (Morocco)

  • Mohamed El BaghdadiEmail author
  • Ismail Zantar
  • Amal Jouider
  • Samir Nadem
  • Radouane Medah
Original Paper


Tadla Plain is one of the most water-productive areas of the central Moroccan and also a fertile tract for agriculture. Our study is concerned with the Dir (Piedmont) aquifer in the sub-urban area of Beni Mellal. The aims of this paper are: (i) to identify some of the main hydrochemical processes controlling groundwater chemistry under the city of Beni Mellal and the impact of urban activities, (ii) to detect and understand the spatial variations of the occurring hydrochemical processes in order to localize areas with the most noticeably contaminated groundwater, (iii) to know the groundwater suitability for drinking, irrigation, and industrial purposes. Fifty-one groundwater samples during spring 2014 were collected and analyzed for physical and chemical groundwater parameters (electrical conductivity EC, pH, total dissolved solid TDS, T°, NO3, SO42−, HCO3, Cl, Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, and trace elements such as Ba, Li, Fe, Mg, Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn). The overall hydrochemistry reflects rock weathering with impregnation of anthropogenic impacts due to the urbanization and agricultural manures. The electric conductivity and the total dissolved solids have values more than the desirable limit of 750 µS/cm and 500 mg/l respectively in 49 and 59% of the total groundwater samples. The concentration of light metal does not exceed the recommended threshold with the following order Ca2+ > Mg2+ > Na+ > K+. Bicarbonate, nitrates, and chloride show contents under the desired guidelines contrary to the content of sulfate, which exceeds the threshold of Moroccan guidelines especially in the central city zone. The abundance of anions is in the following order: HCO3 > SO42− > Cl > NO3. The main hydrogeochemical process is dissolution and weathering from parent rock and cation–cation exchange. All calculated parameter indexes are in concordance that Beni Mellal groundwater is excellent to good for irrigation purposes. The CaCO3 supersaturation restricts the safe use of water for industrial purpose. For most of the trace elements, the measured concentrations were far below the standard values except Al and Fe in some samples, which exceed all guideline values. The use of PCA allowed extracting four principal components (F) using a Kaiser criterion and varimax rotated method, which explained 60% of the total variance. The highest F1 scores are concentrated in the central area, indicating a higher degree of water–rock interactions supplying elements with higher mobility to groundwater. Also, concentrated mobile elements can be reported on more anthropic activities. F2 scores showed a more scattered distribution compared to F1 scores with a concentration around peripheral zones of the city.


Groundwater Hydrochemistry Urban Anthropic activity Heavy metal 



This research has been carried out as part of research that was partly funded by the University Sultan Moulay Slimane. We are thankful to Prof. B. Mernari, President of the University for his support and for providing the working facilities. The Director of ONEE of Beni Mellal (Branche Eau) is thanked for providing the water laboratory of Ain Asserdoune for titrimetric analysis. The authors are also thankful to Hind Nassri for their help in the field and analytical laboratory work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there are no conflicts of interest.


  1. Aghzar N, Berdai H, Bellouti A, Soudi B (2002) Pollution nitrique des eaux souterraines au Tadla (Maroc). Rev Sci Eau 15(2):577–610Google Scholar
  2. Alam F (2014) Evaluation of hydrogeochemical parameters of groundwater for suitability of domestic and irrigational purposes: a case study from Central Ganga Plain, India. Arab J Geosci 7:4121–4131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson RA (1998) Chromium, glucose intolerance and diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr 17(6):548–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrade AIAS, Stigter TY (2011) Hydrogeochemical controls on shallow alluvial groundwater under agricultural land: case study in central Portugal. Environ Earth Sci 63:809. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Appelo CAJ, Postma D (1993) Geochemistry, groundwater and pollution. AA Balkema, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  6. Arora AS, Reddy AS (2013) Multivariate analysis for assessing the quality of storm water from different urban surfaces of the Patiala city, Punjab (India). Urban Water J 10(6):422–433. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baker L A (2009) The water environment of cities. Springer, New York.
  8. Barakat A, El Baghdadi M, Meddah R, Rais J, Nadem S, Afdali M (2013) Evaluation of water quality in open channels flowing through Beni-Mellal City (Morocco). J Water Land Dev 19:3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barakat A, El Baghdadi M, Rais J, Aghezzaf B, Slassi M (2016) Assessment of spatial and seasonal water quality variation of Oum Er Rbia River (Morocco) using multivariate statistical techniques. Int Soil Water Conserv Res 4(4):284–292. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barron OV, Barr AD, Donn MJ (2013) Evolution of nutrient export under urban development in areas affected by shallow water table. Sci Total Environ 443:491–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Berdai H, Soudi B, Bellouti A (2004) Contribution à l’étude de la pollution nitrique des eaux souterraines en zones irriguées: Cas du Tadla Projet INCO-WADEMED Actes du Séminaire “Modernisation de l’Agriculture Irriguée” Rabat, du 19 au 23 avril 2004, pp 1–28Google Scholar
  12. Bhardwaj V, Singh DS (2011) Surface and groundwater quality characterization of Deoria District, Ganga Plain, India. Environ Earth Sci 63:383–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bob M, Abd Rahman N, Elamin A, Teher S (2016) Assessment of groundwater suitability for irrigation in Madinah City. Saudi Arabia. Arab J Geosci 9:38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Borst B, Mahmoud NJ, Van der Steen NP, Lens PNL (2013) A case study of urban water balancing in the partly sewered city of Nablus-East (Palestine) to study wastewater pollution loads and groundwater pollution. Urban Water J 10(6):434–446. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bouchaou L, Chauve P, Mudry J, Mania J, Hsissou Y (1997) Structure et fonctionnement d’un hydrosystème karstique de montagne sous climat semi-aride: cas de I’ Atlas de Beni-Mellal (Maroc). J Afr Earth Sci 26(2):225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bouchaou L, Michelot JL, Qurtobi M, Zine N, Gaye CB, Aggarwal PK, Marah H, Zerouali A, Taleb H, Vengosh A (2009) Origin and residence time of groundwater in the Tadla basin (Morocco) using multiple isotopic and geochemical tools. J Hydrol 379:323–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brezonik PL, Arnold WA (2011) Water chemistry: an introduction to the chemistry of natural and engineered aquatic systems. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Chabukdhara M, Gupta SK, Kotecha Y, Nemab AK (2017) Groundwater quality in Ghaziabad district, Uttar Pradesh, India: multivariate and health risk assessment. Chemosphere 179:167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chen Y, Zhou K, Chen Y, Li W, Wang T (2008) Response of groundwater chemistry to water deliveries in the lower reaches of Tarim River, Northwest China. Environ Geol 53:1365–1373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. EU Directive 1998/83/EC (1998) Official journal of the European Union 2252003, 3 November 1998 L 330, pp 32–53Google Scholar
  21. EU Directive 2003/40/EC (2003) Official journal of the European Union 2252003, 16 May 2003 L 126, pp 34–39Google Scholar
  22. Dragon K (2008) The influence of anthropogenic contamination on the groundwater chemistry of a semi-confined aquifer (The Wielkopolska Buried Valley Aquifer, Poland). Water Resour Manag 22:343–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Durvey VS, Sharma LL, Saini VP, Sharma BK (1991) Handbook on the methodology of water quality assessment. Rajasthan Agriculture University, BikanerGoogle Scholar
  24. Eaton FM (1950) Significance of carbonates in irrigation waters. Soil Sci 69(2):123–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. El Baghdadi M, Barakat A, Sajieddine M, Nadem S (2012) Heavy metal pollution and soil magnetic susceptibility in urban soil of Beni Mellal City (Morocco). Envir Earth Sci 66:141–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. El Baghdadi M, Oumenskou H, Barakat A, Nadem S, Rais J (2015) Impact of solid waste dump of Beni-Mellal city on sediments and soil at Sabeq River. J Mater Environ Sci 6(11):3371–3381Google Scholar
  27. El Baghdadi M, Jouider A, Barakat A, Medah R (2018) Evaluation of hydrogeochemical quality parameters of groundwater under urban activities case of Beni Mellal City (Morocco). In: Kallel A et al (eds) Recent advances in environmental science from the Euro-Mediterranean and surrounding regions, advances in science, technology & innovation.
  28. Ettazarini S (2005) Processes of water–rock interaction in the Turonian aquifer of Oum Er-Rabia Basin, Morocco. Environ Geol 49:293–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ettazarini S (2006) Groundwater pollution risk mapping for the Eocene aquifer of the Oum Er-Rabia basin, Morocco. Environ Geol 51:341–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ettazarini S, El Mahmouhi N (2004) Vulnerability mapping of the Turonian limestone aquifer in the Phosphates Plateau (Morocco). Environ Geol 46:113–117Google Scholar
  31. Flaten TP (2001) Aluminium as a risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease, with emphasis on drinking water. Brain Res Bull 55(2):187–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Galmiche-Tejeda A, Obrador-Olán JJ, García-López E, Carrillo Ávila E (2012) Water quality at the Cárdenas-Comalcalco Basin, México. In: Lee TS (ed) Water quality, soil and managing irrigation of crops. InTech, RijekaGoogle Scholar
  33. Gautam RK, Sharma SK, Mahiya S, Chattopadhyaya MC (2015) Contamination of heavy metals in aquatic media: transport, toxicity and technologies for remediation. In: Sharma SK; The Royal Society of Chemistry (eds) Heavy metals in water: presence, removal and safety, 380 pGoogle Scholar
  34. Gibbs RJ (1970) Mechanisms controlling world water. Chem Sci 170:1088–1090. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gutpa IC (1983) Concept of residual sodium carbonate in irrigation waters in relation to sodic hazard in irrigated soils. Curr Agric 7(3–4):97–113Google Scholar
  36. Howard G, Bartram J (2003) Domestic water quantity, service, level and health. World Health Organization 2003 WHO/SDE/WSH/0302. http://www.hoint/water_sanitation_health/diseases/WSH0302pdf
  37. Howard KWF, Livingstone S (2000) Transport of urban contaminants into Lake Ontario via sub-surface flow. Urban Water 2:183–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huanga G, Chena Z, Suna J, Wanga J, Houa Q (2016) Groundwater quality in aquifers affected by the anthropogenic and natural processes in an urbanized area. South China Environ Forensics 17(1):107–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Johnson RA, Wichern DW (2002) Applied multivariate statistical analysis, 5th edn. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  40. Kent R, Landon MK (2015) Trends in concentrations of nitrate and total dissolved solids in public supply wells of the Bunker Hill, Lytle, Rialto, and Colton groundwater subbasins, San Bernardino County, California: influence of legacy land use. Sci Total Environ 452–453(2013):125–136Google Scholar
  41. Li P, Wu J, Qian H (2015) Hydrochemical appraisal of groundwater quality for drinking and irrigation purposes and the major influencing factors: a case study in and around Hua County, China. Arab J Geosci 9:15. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Marah H, Zine N, Qurtobi M, Zerouali A (2007) Sens d’écoulement, vitesse et âges des eaux de l’aquifère turonien du bassin de Tadla (Maroc). AJEAM-RAGEE 12:1–12Google Scholar
  43. NM 037001 Norme marocaine (2007) Qualité des eaux d’alimentation humaineGoogle Scholar
  44. Prasad A, Kumar D, Singh V (2001) Effect of residual sodium carbonate in irrigation water on the soil sodication and yield of palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinni) and lemongrass (Cymbopogon fiexuosus). Agric Water Manag 50:161–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Richards LA (1954) Diagnosis and improvement of saline and alkali soils. Hand Book. US Department of Agriculture, Washington, p 60Google Scholar
  46. Rosborg I (2015) Drinking water minerals and mineral balance importance, health significance, safety precautions. Springer, New York, p 140Google Scholar
  47. Rosborg I, Soni V, Kozisek F (2015) Potentially toxic elements in drinking water in alphabetic order. In: Rosborg I (ed) Drinking water minerals and mineral balance. Springer, New York, pp 79–102Google Scholar
  48. Roy J, Bickerton G (2010) Proactive screening approach for detecting groundwater contaminants along urban streams at the reach-scale. Environ Sci Technol 44:6088–6094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schoeller H (1965) Qualitative evaluation of groundwater resources. In: Methods and techniques of groundwater investigations and development. UNESCO, pp 54–83Google Scholar
  50. Schoeller H (1967) Geochemistry of groundwater. An international guide for research and practice. UNESCO, chap 15, pp 1–18Google Scholar
  51. Shanahan P. (2009) Groundwater in the urban environment. In: Baker LA (ed) The water environment of cities. Springer, New York, pp 29–42.
  52. Smith, JWN (2005) Groundwater–surface water interactions in the hyporheic zone. In: Science report SC030155/SR. Environment Agency (United Kingdom)Google Scholar
  53. Stuyfzand PJ (1989) Nonpoint source of trace element in potable groundwaters in Netherlands. In: Proceedings of the 18th TWSA Water Working, Testing and Research Institute KIWA, NieuwegeinGoogle Scholar
  54. Sun JC, Jing JH, Huang GX, Liu JT, Chen X, Zhang YX (2009) Report on the investigation and assessment of groundwater contamination in the Pearl River delta area (in Chinese). Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, ShijiazhuangGoogle Scholar
  55. Szabolcs I, Darab C (1964) The influence of irrigation water of high sodium carbonate content of soils. In: Proceedings of 8th international congress of ISSS, Trans II, pp 803–812Google Scholar
  56. UNEP (1990) GEMS/water data summary (1985–1987) Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Centre for Inland Waters; United Nations Environment Programme, Global Environment Monitoring System, GEMS/Water Programme Office, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  57. US Environmental Protection Agency (2009) Factoids: drinking water and ground water statistics for 2009. US EPA, Office of Water EPA 816-K-09-004, Washington, DC. http://www.epagov/safewater/databases/pdfs/data_factoids_2009pdf
  58. Vazquez-Sune E, Sanchez-Vila X, Carrera J (2005) Introductory review of specific factors influencing urban groundwater, an emerging branch of hydrogeology, with reference to Barcelona, Spain. Hydrogeol J 13:522–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wakida FT, Lerner DN (2005) Non-agricultural sources of groundwater nitrate: a review and case study. Water Res 39:3–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. WHO (2011) Guidelines for drinking water quality, 4th edn. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  61. Wilcox LV (1955) Classification and use of irrigation waters. US Department of Agriculture, Cir 969, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  62. Wilcox LV, Blair Y, Bower CA (1954) Effect of bicarbonate on suitability of water for irrigation. Soil Sci 77:259–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wilkinson WB (1993) Groundwater problems in urban areas. In: Proceedings of the international conference organized by the Institution of Civil Engineers and held in London, 2–3 June 1993Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georessources and Environment Laboratory GEORESultan Moulay Slimane UniversityBeni MellalMorocco
  2. 2.Wilaya Beni Mellal KhénifraBeni MellalMorocco
  3. 3.Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable, Branche EauBeni MellalMorocco

Personalised recommendations