Hydrochemical characterization of groundwater to align with sustainable development goals in the Emirate of Dubai, UAE


The Emirate of Dubai is facing ongoing challenges in managing its limited groundwater resources which are mainly used for irrigation and commercial uses whilst domestic supply is largely met by desalinated water. A groundwater investigation was carried out in the emirate with the objective to establish baseline data for the implementation of groundwater management policy. Seventy groundwater samples were collected from a sandy unconfined aquifer in the emirate during March–April 2016, a season which corresponds with post-rain time. The samples were analyzed for 26 physico-chemical, major ions, trace elements and biological parameters. The analysis help classifying groundwater quality into different zones varying from fresh to brackish and saline towards the shoreline sabkhas. The graphical assessment confirmed groundwater to be highly mineralized due to increased resident time, rock–water interaction, irrigation returns and lack of replenishment due to rainfall. Graphical plots and statistical analysis techniques were employed to infer the basic characteristic and genesis of the groundwater. Chemical classification of groundwater was carried out using a Piper trilinear diagram which classified groundwater into predominantly Na–Cl facies type. Various graphs suggest ion-exchange, reverse ion-exchange and evaporation processes drive within groundwater environment. The suitability of groundwater for drinking and irrigation usages was tested using standard techniques. Finally, GIS techniques were employed to process the data and subsequently employed in groundwater management issues such as setting groundwater protection zones, a groundwater monitoring plan and a public awareness program. The hydrogeological investigation coupled with GIS technique gives more insight and reliable information which paved the way to implement various government policies for priority-wise sustainable groundwater management with high accuracy.

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Author wish to thank the Director, Environment Department, Dubai Municipality, for the necessary assistance and constant encouragement in carrying out this study. The funding received for the implementation of groundwater policy is highly acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Izrar Ahmed.

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Ahmed, I., Tariq, N. & Al Muhery, A. Hydrochemical characterization of groundwater to align with sustainable development goals in the Emirate of Dubai, UAE. Environ Earth Sci 78, 44 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-018-8030-1

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  • Groundwater quality
  • Piper’s diagram
  • GIS techniques
  • Sustainable groundwater management
  • Dubai emirate