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A Machine Learning-based Approach for Groundwater Mapping

Abstract

In Bangladesh, groundwater is the main source of both drinking water and irrigation. Suction lift pumps and force mode of operation are the predominant technologies for groundwater abstraction in Bangladesh. For a sustainable usage policy, it is thus important to identify which technology would be more appropriate for which area in Bangladesh. With that aim in mind, this paper proposes a methodology that leverages the power of machine learning that can potentially learn intricate relationships between the (annual maximum) groundwater level (GWL) and the relevant hydrogeological factors (HGFs). A number of machine learning algorithms—both classification and regression models—was trained. Our classification models were trained as a binary classifier to predict the abstraction technology of a particular point. Notably, our best classification model was based on the Random Forest algorithm, which achieved an accuracy of 91% and an excellent value of 96% for the area under receiver operating characteristics curve, indicating its strong discriminant capability. We also identified (elevation derived from) digital elevation model, specific yield and lithology as the three most important HGFs for GWL in Bangladesh. On the other hand, to predict the actual (annual maximum) GWL, we employed a two-stage approach, where we first employed the above-mentioned classification model to identify the suitable abstraction technology for the point of interest and subsequently predict the actual GWL using the appropriate Random Forest regressor. This also had a reasonable accuracy (minimum absolute error was less than 1 for suction mode and less than 5 for the force mode). Finally, using our prediction models, we prepared groundwater (technology) maps for the whole Bangladesh.

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Code Availability

The code is available at the following link: https://github.com/rizvi23061998/GWL_BD.

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Acknowledgments

This work is part of the project titled ‘Development of IoT enabled data logger to monitor groundwater and analysis of the collected data’ under the innovation fund of ICT Division, Bangladesh. It was further supported by the AI for Earth Grant for a project titled “GWMap: Applying Machine Learning to map groundwater levels in Bangladesh.”

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Correspondence to Sara Nowreen or M. Sohel Rahman.

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Zzaman, R.U., Nowreen, S., Khan, I.M. et al. A Machine Learning-based Approach for Groundwater Mapping. Nat Resour Res 31, 281–299 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11053-021-09977-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11053-021-09977-4

Keywords

  • Groundwater
  • Force-mode pump
  • Hydrogeological factors
  • Machine learning
  • Prediction
  • Suction-mode pump