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Quality of Groundwater in the Shallow Aquifers of a Paddy Dominated Agricultural River Basin, Kerala, India

Authors: N. Kannan, Sabu Joseph


Groundwater is an essential and vital component of our life support system. The groundwater resources are being utilized for drinking, irrigation and industrial purposes. There is growing concern on deterioration of groundwater quality due to geogenic and anthropogenic activities. Groundwater, being a fragile must be carefully managed to maintain its purity within standard limits. So, quality assessment and management are to be carried out hand-in-hand to have a pollution free environment and for a sustainable use. In order to assess the quality for consumption by human beings and for use in agriculture, the groundwater from the shallow aquifers (dug well) in the Palakkad and Chittur taluks of Bharathapuzha river basin - a paddy dominated agricultural basin (order=8th; L= 209 Km; Area = 6186 Km2), Kerala, India, has been selected. The water samples (n= 120) collected for various seasons, viz., monsoon-MON (August, 2005), postmonsoon-POM (December, 2005) and premonsoon-PRM (April, 2006), were analyzed for important physico-chemical attributes. Spatial and temporal variation of attributes do exist in the study area, and based on major cations and anions, different hydrochemical facies have been identified. Using Gibbs'diagram, rock dominance has been identified as the mechanism controlling groundwater chemistry. Further, the suitability of water for irrigation was determined by analyzing salinity hazard indicated by sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), residual sodium carbonate (RSC) and sodium percent (%Na). Finally, stress zones in the study area were delineated using Arc GIS spatial analysis and various management options were recommended to restore the ecosystem.

Keywords: Groundwater quality, agricultural basin, Kerala, India.

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