Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 1419–1434 | Cite as

Assessment of the potential for bank filtration in a water-stressed megacity (Delhi, India)

  • G. LorenzenEmail author
  • C. Sprenger
  • T. Taute
  • Asaf Pekdeger
  • A. Mittal
  • G. Massmann
Original Article


In the densely populated semi-arid territory around Delhi, the water demand is rising continuously, while the surface- and groundwater resources are threatened by contamination and overexploitation. This is a typical scenario in many newly industrialising and developing countries, where new approaches for a responsible resources management have to be found. Bank filtration holds a great potential, thus being a low tech method and benefiting from the storage and contaminant attenuation capacity of the natural soil/rock. For this study, three field sites have been constructed to investigate bank filtration in different environments in and around the megacity with a main focus on inorganic contaminants. Hydraulic heads, temperature gradients and hydrochemistry of surface water and groundwater were analysed in three different seasons. Depending on site-specific conditions, distinct hydrogeological conditions were observed and both positive and negative effects on water quality were identified. Most concerning issues are the impact of anthropogenic ammonia, the mixing with ambient saline groundwater and the mobilisation of arsenic during the reductive dissolution of manganese- and iron-(hydr)oxides. Positive aspects are the dilution of contaminants during the mixing of waters from different sources, the sorption of arsenic, denitrification, and the precipitation of fluoride under favourable conditions.


Bank filtration India Groundwater/surface water relations Hydrochemistry Urban groundwater 



All investigations were realized within the frame of the EU integrated project TECHNEAU (work package 5.2) under the coordination of Dr. B. Fritz (initiator of the BF studies in Delhi), Dr. Y. Moreau, Dr. J. Greskowiak and Dr. G. Grützmacher at the Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin (KWB). Field work in India would not have been possible without the kind patronage and guidance from the Central Groundwater Board of India and the support of Delhi’s authorities, particularly the Irrigation and Flood Control Department and the Delhi Jal Board. We are grateful for suggestions and fruitful discussions with water experts and scientists, especially Dr. S.B. Singh, Dr. P.S. Datta and Dr. D.V. Reddy and Dr. M. Tesmer. Sampling campaigns were executed in cooperation with the Environmental Engineering Laboratory of IIT Delhi. Special thanks to MTech Pravin Kumar and MTech Medalson Ronghang for invaluable support and friendship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Lorenzen
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Sprenger
    • 1
  • T. Taute
    • 1
  • Asaf Pekdeger
    • 1
  • A. Mittal
    • 2
  • G. Massmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Hydrogeology Group, Institute of Geological SciencesFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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