Spatial analysis of groundwater suitability for drinking and irrigation in Lahore, Pakistan

  • Zainab Abbas
  • Harold Wilson Tumwitike Mapoma
  • Chunli Su
  • Syed Zahid Aziz
  • Yanhua Ma
  • Naaz Abbas


This study used a total of 474 groundwater samples analyzed from 2014 data to evaluate the distribution of groundwater quality in the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) jurisdiction of Lahore city, Pakistan. The study further assessed the variations in suitability of groundwater for drinking (emphasis on arsenic and fluoride) and irrigation using spatial correlation technique in GIS. The hydrochemical analysis revealed a predominance of Mg-Ca-HCO3-SO4 and Ca-Mg-HCO3-SO4 type. Distribution analysis indicated relatively higher salinity (TDSmax = 1667 mg/L), total hardness (THmax = 558 mg/L), and alkalinity (HCO3max = 584 mg/L) in the south-eastern region of the city, while the central part displayed the highest levels of SO4 and NO3. Also, the eastern region (north-south) of Lahore had significantly elevated As concentrations (up to 86 μg/L). The order of exceedance in terms of arsenic was Gunj Bakhsh town (17.4%), Nishter town (16.4%), Iqbal town (9.8%), Aziz Batti and Shalimar town (8.1%), and Ravi town (3%). The groundwater was classified as average saline to highly saline, except few samples in Aziz Batti/Shalimar town that were in non-saline group. Otherwise, the various indices classified the groundwater for irrigation as generally acceptable. With the various irrigation quality indices displaying discernible variations for the entire study area, it was observed from the distribution maps that the groundwater suitability for irrigation is relatively excellent in the areas away from industries and landfill locations. Also, the chloride analysis shows 98.7% of the groundwater samples belong to the very fresh and fresh water class. Thus, continued monitoring and studying the changes in groundwater quality in Lahore is imperative.


Groundwater Hydrochemistry Irrigation Arsenic Lahore city 


Funding information

The authors acknowledge the material support from Water and Sanitation Agency Lahore, Pakistan. The research work was financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41521001, No. 40802058, and No. 41502230).


  1. Abbas, Z., Su, C., Tahira, F., Mapoma, H. W. T., & Aziz, S. Z. (2015). Quality and hydrochemistry of groundwater used for drinking in Lahore, Pakistan: analysis of source and distributed groundwater. Environmental Earth Sciences, 74(5), 4281–4294. Scholar
  2. Abou Zakhem, B., & Hafez, R. (2015). Hydrochemical, isotopic and statistical characteristics of groundwater nitrate pollution in Damascus Oasis (Syria). Environmental Earth Sciences, 74(4), 2781–2797. Scholar
  3. Ahamed, S., Kumar Sengupta, M., Mukherjee, A., Amir Hossain, M., Das, B., Nayak, B., Pal, A., Chandra Mukherjee, S., Pati, S., Nath Dutta, R., Chatterjee, G., Mukherjee, A., Srivastava, R., & Chakraborti, D. (2006). Arsenic groundwater contamination and its health effects in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in upper and middle Ganga plain, India: a severe danger. Sci Total Environ, 370(2–3), 310–322. Scholar
  4. Ahmad, M., Rafiq, M., Akram, W., Tasneem, M., Ahmad, N., Iqbal, N., & Sajjad, M. I. (2002). Assessment of aquifer system in the city of Lahore, Pakistan using isotopic techniques. Major Urban Areas, 33, 109–133.Google Scholar
  5. Ahmed, K. M., Bhattacharya, P., Hasan, M. A., Akhter, S. H., Alam, S. M. M., Bhuyian, M. A. H., Imam, M. B., Khan, A. A., & Sracek, O. (2004). Arsenic enrichment in groundwater of the alluvial aquifers in Bangladesh: an overview. Applied Geochemistry, 19(2), 181–200. Scholar
  6. Aiman, U., Mahmood, A., Waheed, S., & Malik, R. N. (2016). Enrichment, geo-accumulation and risk surveillance of toxic metals for different environmental compartments from Mehmood Booti dumping site, Lahore city, Pakistan. Chemosphere, 144, 2229–2237. Scholar
  7. Baillieux, A., Moeck, C., Perrochet, P., & Hunkeler, D. (2015). Assessing groundwater quality trends in pumping wells using spatially varying transfer functions. Hydrogeology Journal, 23(7), 1449–1463. Scholar
  8. Bibi, M., Hashmi, M. Z., & Malik, R. N. (2015). Human exposure to arsenic in groundwater from Lahore district, Pakistan. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 39(1), 42–52. Scholar
  9. Bohling, G. (2005). Introduction to geostatistics and variogram analysis. Kansas geological survey, 1, 1–20.Google Scholar
  10. Bonton, A., Rouleau, A., Bouchard, C., & Rodriguez, M. J. (2010). Assessment of groundwater quality and its variations in the capture zone of a pumping well in an agricultural area. Agricultural Water Management, 97(6), 824–834. Scholar
  11. Bordoloi, S., Nath, S. K., Gogoi, S., & Dutta, R. K. (2013). Arsenic and iron removal from groundwater by oxidation-coagulation at optimized pH: laboratory and field studies. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 260, 618–626. Scholar
  12. Buragohain, M., Bhuyan, B., & Sarma, H. P. (2010). Seasonal variations of lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminium contamination of groundwater in Dhemaji district, Assam, India. [journal article]. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 170(1), 345–351. Scholar
  13. Chakraborti, D., Rahman, M. M., Das, B., Murrill, M., Dey, S., Chandra Mukherjee, S., Dhar, R. K., Biswas, B. K., Chowdhury, U. K., Roy, S., Sorif, S., Selim, M., Rahman, M., & Quamruzzaman, Q. (2010). Status of groundwater arsenic contamination in Bangladesh: a 14-year study report. Water Research, 44(19), 5789–5802. Scholar
  14. Farooqi, A., Masuda, H., & Firdous, N. (2007). Toxic fluoride and arsenic contaminated groundwater in the Lahore and Kasur districts, Punjab, Pakistan and possible contaminant sources. Environmental Pollution, 145(3), 839–849. Scholar
  15. Gabriel, H., & Khan, S. (2010). Climate responsive urban groundwater management options in a stressed aquifer system. IAHS-AISH Publication, 338, 166–168.Google Scholar
  16. Ghesquière, O., Walter, J., Chesnaux, R., & Rouleau, A. (2015). Scenarios of groundwater chemical evolution in a region of the Canadian Shield based on multivariate statistical analysis. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 4, 246–266. Scholar
  17. Gupta, S. K., & Gupta, I. C. (1987). Management of saline soils and waters. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  18. Halim, M. A., Majumder, R. K., Nessa, S. A., Hiroshiro, Y., Sasaki, K., Saha, B. B., Saepuloh, A., & Jinno, K. (2010). Evaluation of processes controlling the geochemical constituents in deep groundwater in Bangladesh: spatial variability on arsenic and boron enrichment. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 180(1–3), 50–62. Scholar
  19. Kazi, T. G., Arain, M. B., Jamali, M. K., Jalbani, N., Afridi, H. I., Sarfraz, R. A., Baig, J. A., & Shah, A. Q. (2009). Assessment of water quality of polluted lake using multivariate statistical techniques: a case study. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 72(2), 301–309. Scholar
  20. Kudoda, A. M., & Abdalla, O. A. E. (2015). Hydrochemical characterization of the main aquifers in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. Environmental Earth Sciences, 74(6), 4771–4786. Scholar
  21. Manzoor, S., Shah, M. H., Shaheen, N., Khalique, A., & Jaffar, M. (2006). Multivariate analysis of trace metals in textile effluents in relation to soil and groundwater. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 137(1), 31–37. Scholar
  22. Mapoma, H. W. T., & Xie, X. (2014). Basement and alluvial aquifers of Malawi: an overview of groundwater quality and policies. African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 8(3), 190–202. Scholar
  23. Mapoma, H. W. T., Xie, X., & Zhang, L. (2014). Redox control on trace element geochemistry and provenance of groundwater in fractured basement of Blantyre, Malawi. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 100, 335–345. Scholar
  24. Mullane, J. M., Flury, M., Iqbal, H., Freeze, P. M., Hinman, C., Cogger, C. G., & Shi, Z. (2015). Intermittent rainstorms cause pulses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and copper in leachate from compost in bioretention systems. Sci Total Environ, 537, 294–303. Scholar
  25. Pathak, H., & Limaye, S. N. (2011). Study of seasonal variation in groundwater quality of Sagar City (India) by principal component analysis. E-Journal of Chemistry, 8(4), 2000–2009. Scholar
  26. Rafique, T., Naseem, S., Bhanger, M. I., & Usmani, T. H. (2008). Fluoride ion contamination in the groundwater of Mithi sub-district, the Thar Desert, Pakistan. Environmental Geology, 56(2), 317–326. Scholar
  27. Rahman, M. M., Naidu, R., & Bhattacharya, P. (2009). Arsenic contamination in groundwater in the Southeast Asia region. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 31(1), 9–21. Scholar
  28. Rahman, M. M., Asaduzzaman, M., & Naidu, R. (2013). Consumption of arsenic and other elements from vegetables and drinking water from an arsenic-contaminated area of Bangladesh. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 262, 1056–1063. Scholar
  29. Rajesh, R., Brindha, K., & Elango, L. (2015). Groundwater quality and its hydrochemical characteristics in a shallow weathered rock aquifer of southern India. Water Quality, Exposure and Health, 7(4), 515–524. Scholar
  30. Rice, E. W., Baird, R. B., Eaton, A. D., & Clesceri, L. S. (Eds.). (2012). Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater (22nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation.Google Scholar
  31. Salcedo-Sánchez, E. R., Hoyos, S. E. G., Alberich, M. V. E., & Morales, M. M. (2016). Application of water quality index to evaluate groundwater quality (temporal and spatial variation) of an intensively exploited aquifer (Puebla valley, Mexico). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 188(10), 573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Smedley, P., & Kinniburgh, D. (2002). A review of the source, behaviour and distribution of arsenic in natural waters. Applied Geochemistry, 17(5), 517–568. Scholar
  33. Stuyfzand, P. J. (1989). Nonpoint source of trace element in potable groundwater in Netherland. In Proceedings of the 18th TWSA Water Workings, KIWA, 1989. Nieuwegein: Testing and Research Institute.Google Scholar
  34. Valipour, M. (2014). Drainage, waterlogging, and salinity. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, 60(12), 1625–1640. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. WHO. (2011). Guidelines for drinking-water quality (4th ed.). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  36. Zouahri, A., Dakak, H., Douaik, A., El Khadir, M., & Moussadek, R. (2015). Evaluation of groundwater suitability for irrigation in the Skhirat region, northwest of Morocco. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 187(1), 4184. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water and Sanitation Agency LahoreLahorePakistan
  2. 2.School of Environmental StudiesChina University of Geosciences (Wuhan)WuhanChina
  3. 3.Physics and Biochemical SciencesUniversity of MalawiBlantyre 3Malawi
  4. 4.Pakistan Council of Science and Industrial ResearchLahorePakistan

Personalised recommendations