Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 1037–1047 | Cite as

Holistic assessment of groundwater resources and regional environmental problems in the North China Plain

  • Jianyao ChenEmail author
Original Article


Water balance components of the North China Plain (NCP) were analyzed, indicating the decrease both in precipitation and evaporation. The decreased precipitation and expansion of water use for agriculture, industrial and domestic purposes have caused a water crisis, which was managed until now by diverting water from the Yellow River and over exploitation of groundwater. The groundwater resource was assessed by estimating its recharge in both upper unconfined and lower confined layers, yielding a total value of 1.65 × 1010 m3/a. Total groundwater use was estimated and judged by the actual water table drawdown. Salt accumulation, water table decrease, fluoride and nitrate pollution were all found to be major regional environmental problems. Furthermore, heavy metals were found in high content in the soil and surface water in suburbs of large cities, posing a potential risk of pollution in the groundwater. It has been verified by isotropic data that dry conditions have occurred since 10 ka and are therefore part of the natural process. Possible solutions for water crises in the NCP are proposed.


Water balance Groundwater Recharge Isotope Water deficit North China Plain 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 40571027), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (grant no. 9251027501000021) and Innovation and Application Research Fund from Water Sciences Department of Guangdong Province (2009–2011). Thanks are expressed to the anonymous reviewers, Mr James Kirkham of CSIRO Land and Water, and Mr Philip Fountain of Australian National University for improvements to an earlier draft of this paper.

Supplementary material

12665_2009_425_MOESM1_ESM.doc (414 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 411 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography and PlanningSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.CSIRO Land and WaterCanberraAustralia

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