Evaluation of geogenic and anthropogenic impacts on spatio-temporal variation in quality of surface water and groundwater along Cauvery River, India

Original Article


Assessment of groundwater and surface water quality along a river is important as it directly affects the agricultural, industrial activities and population. The objective of the study is to assess the quality of the Cauvery river water and adjacent groundwater for drinking and irrigational purposes and to identify the infuence of geogenic and anthropogenic sources. Groundwater and surface water samples were collected along the course of the river at approximate intervals of 25 km. The samples were analysed for electrical conductivity, pH, sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride and sulphate. Sodium was identified as the dominant cation and bicarbonate was the dominant anion for both river water and groundwater. These values were compared with limits recommended by the Bureau of Indian Standards for drinking purposes. The total dissolved solids were found to exceed the permissible limits for drinking water in most of the groundwater samples, and it was below the permissible limits in river water samples. Most of the river water samples were found to be suitable as per the drinking water quality standards, but most of the groundwater samples were unsuitable based on the concentration of major ions. Irrigation water quality was also assessed based on magnesium hazard, residual sodium carbonate, sodium percentage, sodium adsorption ratio, permeability index and salinity hazard. Most of the river water samples collected were suitable for irrigation, whereas most of the groundwater samples collected were doubtful for irrigation based on residual sodium carbonate and sodium percentage. Drinking water and irrigation water quality indices were also computed to assess the characteristics of water. Groundwater quality in locations nearer to the confluence of tributaries and industrial areas was of poor quality, while both river water and groundwater near the coast were poor, both for drinking and irrigation purposes. Comparison of the dissolved load with other rivers of the world was also made, which reveals that the Cauvery River yields comparatively higher dissolved load per area than most of the rivers. The chemical load in the river is due to natural and anthropogenic sources. Therefore, it is necessary to enforce the existing norms for the discharge of treated effluents by industries and townships along the river so as to reduce the chemicals contributed by anthropogenic sources.


Total dissolved solids Hardness Major ions Sodium absorption ratio Water quality index World rivers 



The authors thank the Indian Space Research Organisation and National Remote Sensing Centre [Grant No. ISRO/IGBP/NCP/NRSC/Project funds/10-2012(2)] for financial support. Thanks are also due to students namely Phrangbor Syiem, Gopalakrishnan N. and Dhanamadavan S. for their assistance in sample collection and analyses during the initial stages of this work.


  1. Afroz R, Banna H, Masud MM, Akhtar R, Yahaya SR (2016) Household’s perception of water pollution and its economic impact on human health in Malaysia. Desalination and Water Treatment 57(1):115–123Google Scholar
  2. APHA (1998) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 20th edn. American Public Health Association/American Water Works Association/Water Environment Federation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  3. Ayers RS, Westcot DW (1985) Water quality for agriculture, vol 29. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  4. Basu S, Lokesh KS (2012) Trend of temporal variation of Cauvery river water quality at KR Nagar in Karnataka. Int J Eng Sci Technol 4(8):3693–3699Google Scholar
  5. Bhargava DS (1985) Water quality variations and control technology of Yamuna river. Environ Pollut A 37(4):355–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhutiani R, Khanna DR, Kulkarni DB, Ruhela M (2016) Assessment of Ganga river ecosystem at Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India with reference to water quality indices. Appl Water Sci 6(2):107–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. BIS (1982) Indian standard tolerance limits for Inland surface water subject to pollution, IS 2296:1982. Bureau of Indian Standards, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  8. BIS (2012) Indian standard drinking water specification, second revision IS 10500:2012. Bureau of Indian Standards, Drinking Water Sectional Committee, FAD25, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown RM, McCleiland NJ, Deiniger RA and O’Connor MFA (1972) Water quality index—crossing the physical barrier. In: Jenkis SH (ed) Proceedings in international conference on water pollution research. Jerusalem, pp 787–797Google Scholar
  10. Brown P, El Gohary F, Tawfic MA, Hamdy EI, Abdel-Gawad S (2003) Nile river water quality management study. Egypt Water Policy Reform, United States Agency for International Development, EgyptGoogle Scholar
  11. CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) (2008) Status of water quality in India—2007. http://www.cpcb.nic.in/upload/NewItems/NewItem_129_NWMP-2007.pdf. Accessed 21 Dec 2016
  12. CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) (2014) Status of water quality in India—2007. https://data.gov.in/catalog/status-water-quality-india-2012. Accessed 21 Dec 2016
  13. CWC (Central Water Commission) (2016) Integrated hydrologic data book, New Delhi. http://www.cwc.nic.in/main/downloads/IHD2015_final.pdf. Accessed 21 Dec 2016
  14. Dahunsi SO, Owamah HI, Ayandiran TA, Oranusi SU (2014) Drinking water quality and public health of selected towns in South Western Nigeria. Water Qual Expo Health 6(3):143–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Domenico PA, Schwartz FW (1990) Physical and chemical hydrogeology. Wiley, New York, pp 410–420Google Scholar
  16. Doneen LD (1964) Water quality for agriculture. Department of Irrigation, University of California, DavisGoogle Scholar
  17. Eaton EM (1950) Significance of carbonates in irrigation waters. Soil Sci 69:123–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Freeze RA, Cherry JA (1979) Groundwater. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, p 604Google Scholar
  19. Gaillardet J, Dupre B, Louvat P, Allegre CJ (1999) Global silicate weathering and CO2 consumption rates deduced from the chemistry of large rivers. Chem Geol 159(1):3–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Garbarino JR, Antweiler RC, Brinton TI, Roth DA, Taylor HE (1995) Concentration and transport data for selected dissolved inorganic constituents and dissolved organic carbon in water collected from the Mississippi River and some of its tributaries, July 1991–May 1992. US Geol Surv Open File Rep 149:95–149Google Scholar
  21. Goher ME, Hassan AM, Abdel-Moniem IA, Fahmy AH, El-sayed SM (2014) Evaluation of surface water quality and heavy metal indices of Ismailia Canal, Nile River, Egypt. Egypt J Aquat Res 40(3):225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grosbois C, Négrel P, Grimaud D, Fouillac C (2001) An overview of dissolved and suspended matter fluxes in the Loire river basin: natural and anthropogenic inputs. Aquat Geochem 7(2):81–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hart FG (1999) World delta database, Cauvery. http://www.geol.lsu.edu/WDD/ASIAN/Cauvery/cauvery.htm. Accessed 21 Dec 2016
  24. Huang X, Sillanpää M, Gjessing ET, Peräniemi S, Vogt RD (2011) Water quality in the southern Tibetan Plateau: chemical evaluation of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra). River Res Appl 27(1):113–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. India Wris Wiki (2015) Cauvery. http://www.india-wris.nrsc.gov.in/wrpinfo/index.php?title=Cauvery. Accessed on 21 Sept
  26. Jayananda M, Moyen JF, Martin H, Peucat JJ, Auvray B, Mahabaleswar B (2000) Late Archaean (2550 2520 Ma) juvenile magmatism in the Eastern Dharwar craton, southern India: constraints from geochronology, Nd Sr isotopes, and whole rock geochemistry. Precambrian Res 99:225–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. John MM, Balakrishnan S, Bhadra BK (2005) Contrasting metamorphism across Cauvery Shear Zone, south India. J Earth Syst Sci 114(2):1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kalpana L, Elango L (2013) Assessment of groundwater quality for drinking and irrigation purposes in Pambar river sub-basin, Tamil Nadu. Indian J Environ Prot 33(1):1–8Google Scholar
  29. Kelly WP (1957) Adsorbed sodium cation exchange capacity and percentage sodium sorption in alkali soils. Science 84:473–477Google Scholar
  30. Lloyd JW, Heathcote JA (1985) Natural inorganic hydrochemistry in relation to groundwater. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Meybeck M (1983) Atmospheric inputs and river transport of dissolved substances. Dissolved Loads Rivers Surf Water Quant/Qual Relationsh 141:173–192Google Scholar
  32. Meybeck M, Ragu A (2012) GEMS-GLORI world river discharge database. Laboratoire De Géologie Appliquée, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, ParisGoogle Scholar
  33. Milliman J (2001) River inputs. In: Steele JH (ed) Encyclopedia of ocean sciences. Academic Press, London, pp 2419–2427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mohsin M, Safdar S, Asghar F, Jamal F (2013) Assessment of drinking water quality and its impact on residents health in Bahawalpur city. Int J Humanit Soc Sci 3(15):114–128Google Scholar
  35. Moosdorf N, Hartmann J, Lauerwald R, Hagedorn B, Kempe S (2011) Atmospheric CO2 consumption by chemical weathering in North America. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 75(24):7829–7854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mukherjee D, Chattopadhyay M, Lahiri SC (1993) Water quality of the River Ganga (The Ganges) and some of its physico-chemical properties. Environmentalist 13(3):199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Naqvi SM, Divakara Rao V, Satyanarayana K, Hussain SM (1974) Geochemistry of post-Dharwar basic dykes and the Precambrian crustal evolution of Peninsular India. Geol Mag 111:229–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pattanaik JK, Balakrishnan S, Bhutani R, Singh P (2013) Estimation of weathering rates and CO2 drawdown based on solute load: significance of granulites and gneisses dominated weathering in the Kaveri River basin, southern India. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 121:611–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pichamuthu CS (1976) Some problems pertaining to the Peninsular Gneiss Complex. J Geol Soc India 17:1–16Google Scholar
  40. Pichamuthu CS (1978) Archaean geology investigations in southern India. Geol Soc India 19(10):431–439Google Scholar
  41. Piper AM (1944) A graphical procedure in the geochemical interpretation of water analysis. Trans Am Geophys Union 25:914–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Porcella DB, Sorensen DL (1980) Characteristics of nonpoint source urban runoff and its effects on stream ecosystems. Corvallis Environmental Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, United States of AmericaGoogle Scholar
  43. Radhakrishna BP (1956) The closepet granite of Mysore State, India. Mysore Geologists’ Association Special Publication, Bangalore, pp 1–110Google Scholar
  44. Rao KL (1975) India’s water wealth. Orient Longman, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  45. Rasool A, Xiao T, Farooqi A, Shafeeque M, Liu Y, Kamran MA, Katsoyiannis IA, Eqani SAMAS (2017) Quality of tube well water intended for irrigation and human consumption with special emphasis on arsenic contamination in the area of Punjab, Pakistan. Environ Geochem Health 39(4):847–863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Reynolds SE (1972) Water quality problem on the Colorado River. Nat Resour J 12:480Google Scholar
  47. Richards LA (1954) Diagnosis and improvement of saline and Alkali soils. USDA Handbook, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  48. Sawyer CN, McCarty PL (1978) Chemistry of environmental engineering. Series in water resources and environmental engineering, 3rd edn. McGraw–Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Shiklomanov IA (1998) World water resources. A new appraisal and assessment for the 21st century. UNESCO, ParisGoogle Scholar
  50. Shio T, Maddocks A, Carson C, Loizeaux E (2015) 3 Maps explain India’s growing water risks. http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/02/3-maps-explain-india%E2%80%99s-growing-water-risks. Accessed on 5 Oct
  51. Solaraj G, Dhanakumar S, Murthy KR, Mohanraj R (2010) Water quality in select regions of Cauvery Delta River basin, southern India, with emphasis on monsoonal variation. Environ Monit Assess 166(1–4):435–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Subramanian KS, Selvan TA (2001) Geology of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, 1st edn. Geological Society of India, Bangalore, p 192Google Scholar
  53. Sundaram R, Rao PS (1981) Lithostratigraphy of Cretaceous and Palaeocene rocks of Tiruchirapalli District, Tamil Nadu, South India. GSI Rec 115(5):9–23Google Scholar
  54. Suresh M, Gurugnanam B, Vasudevan S, Dharanirajan K, Raj NJ (2010) Drinking and irrigational feasibility of groundwater, GIS spatial mapping in upper Thirumanimuthar sub-basin, Cauvery river, Tamil Nadu. J Geol Soc India 75(3):518–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Susheela FS, Srikantaswamy FS, Shiva Kumar FD, Gowda FA, Jagadish FK (2014) Study of Cauvery river water pollution and its impact on socio-economic status around KRS Dam, Karnataka, India. J Earth Sci Geotech Eng 4(2):91–109Google Scholar
  56. Szabolcs I, Darab C (1964). The influence of irrigation water of high sodium carbonate content of soils. Proceedings of 8th ISSS Trans, 2:802–812Google Scholar
  57. Todd DK (1959) Ground water hydrology, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  58. Vetrimurugan E, Elango L, Rajmohan N (2013) Sources of contaminants and groundwater quality in the coastal part of a river delta. Int J Environ Sci Technol 10:473–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. WBCSD (2006) Business in the world of water: WBCSD water scenarios to 2025. World Business Council for Sustainable Development. http://www.wbcsd.org/Clusters/Water/Resources/Business-in-the-World-of-Water-WBCSD-water-scenarios-to-2025 Accessed 17 May
  60. WHO (1993) Guidelines for drinking water quality. World Health Organization, 2nd edn. Recommendations, WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  61. WHO (2003a) Sodium in drinking water, background documents for development of WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/sodium.pdf. Accessed 16 Oct
  62. WHO (2003b) Chloride in drinking water, Background documents for development of WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chloride.pdf. Accessed 16 Oct
  63. WHO (2003c) Total dissolved solids in drinking water, Background documents for development of WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/tds.pdf. Accessed 18 May
  64. WHO (2007) pH in drinking water, Revised background documents for development of WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/ph_revised_2007_clean_version.pdf. Accessed 16 Oct
  65. Wilcox LV (1955) Classification and use of irrigation waters. USDA, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  66. Zhang J, Huang WW, Letolle R, Jusserand C (1995) Major element chemistry of the Huanghe (Yellow River), China-weathering processes and chemical fluxes. J Hydrol 168(1):173–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zheng Q, Ma T, Wang Y, Yan Y, Liu L (2017) Hydrochemical characteristics and quality assessment of shallow groundwater in Xincai River Basin, Northern China. Procedia Earth Planet Sci 17:368–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhu B (2016) Natural water quality and its suitability for drinking and irrigation purposes in the Jungar Basin, Central Asia. J Civil Environ Eng 6:232Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyAnna UniversityChennaiIndia

Personalised recommendations