Perennial springs are a major source of drinking water in the Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir. The region is a tourist hub and is getting rapidly urbanized, putting pressure on water sources. But there is a lack of comprehensive studies on groundwater quality for the region.
Image: Vinayaraj via Wikimedia Commons
So, Khalid Omar Murtaza and his team from the University of Kashmir decided to analyse groundwater quality there. To understand the chemical parameters and the spatial distribution of groundwater under different seasonal stresses, the group collected 211 groundwater samples from the 2012 monsoon to the next one.
The chemical tests showed the presence of ions like calcium, bicarbonate, nitrate in the water. But chemical analysis showed that the pH and hardness of most samples were within the limits prescribed by the WHO and the Bureau of Indian Standards. The region has good drinking water as per water quality indices.
The concentrations of cations, such as calcium, magnesium and sodium, and anions, such as chloride, bicarbonate and sulphate, were plotted on piper trilinear diagrams to visualise ionic interactions. From the ions present, the team deduced the related salts. This provided clues about the sources of the ions. Lithology and anthropogenic activities were seen to affect water quality.
“Periodic monitoring of groundwater quality is necessary to prevent and reduce chances of contamination,” says Khalid Omar Murtaza, University of Kashmir.
To understand the extent and pattern of groundwater quality, the team represented the chemical results on maps. Geospatial analysis showed that densely populated sites at Udhampur, Katra and Kirmichi ranked slightly lower on water quality indices.
“We don’t see any immediate need for concern, but it is better to be careful,” says Irfan Rashid, University of Kashmir.
Though the area’s groundwater potential is high, during their field study, the researchers observed many tube wells and boreholes throughout the region.
“We need to regulate groundwater withdrawal to keep it sustainable and healthy,” says Shakil Ahmed Romhoo, University of Kashmir.
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. India Sect. A, 90: 883-897(2021);
Khushbu K Birawat
Global Academy of Technology, Bangalore
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