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Fundamental of ground water, water quality and environmental concern. Facts about water. Water, an essential element for survival and growth of human beings, called as basis of life (World Water Forum- 2004).

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facts about water
Facts about water
  • Water, an essential element for survival and growth of human beings, called as basis of life (World Water Forum- 2004).
  • Only 2.7% of the total water available on the earth is fresh water out of which ~75.2% lies frozen in polar regions and ~22.6 % is present as ground water. (Ministry of Water Resources, 2010).
  • India having 2.4% of geographical area and 15% of world population have only 4% of fresh water resource. Average annual rainfall emanating largely from the south west monsoon is 116 cm which is higher than world average of 110 cm. In spite of this fact, 35% of geographical area of the country is draft prone and this water problem is more enhanced by quality degradation due to industrial and domestic waste (National Institute of Hydrology, 2001).
  • India is the largest user of ground water in the world, with an estimated use of 231 km3 of ground water every year, more than a quarter of the global level (Ministry of Water Resources, 2010).
  • Ground water supports ~60% of irrigated agriculture and > 80% of rural and urban water supplies.
facts about water1


Readily accessible freshwater










Ice caps

and glaciers






water vapor


Facts about water
industrialization and water problem
Industrialization and water problem
  • The rapid pace of agricultural development, industrialization and urbanization has resulted in the overexploitation and contamination of ground water resources in various parts of the country, resulting in various adverse environmental impacts and threatening its long-term sustainability.
  • There are 57,000 polluting industries (large and medium) in India generating 13,468 mld of wastewater out of 13,468 mld, ~ 60% is treated and rest 40% untreated are discarded in river, lakes, and streams depleting quality of surface as well as groundwater. 1,00,000 tonne/year of pesticide are consumed in major agricultural region of India which by run-off get added in surface water or get infiltrate to groundwater, thus decreasing its quality (CPCB, 2003).
fundamentals of ground water
Fundamentals of Ground water
  • Infiltration: movement of water into soil from matric and gravity forces
  • Percolation: movement due to gravity alone
  • Porosity decreases with depth.
  • Zone of aeration: Soil surface  water table top
    • Soil water zone
      • Soil surface through the root zone
    • Vadose zone
      • Soil water zone  capillary fringe
    • Capillary fringe:
      • Water from saturated zone is pulled up
fundamentals of ground water contd
Fundamentals of Ground water(contd…)
  • Zone of saturation: below the water table
  • Aquifer: water-bearing porous soil or rock strata that yield significant water to wells
  • Aquiclude: any water-bearing soil or rock that are effectively impermeable
    • Example: shale, slate, clays
  • Aquitard: water-bearing soil or rock that retards flow of groundwater
    • Example: silts, mudstones
fundamentals of ground water contd1


artesian well


Evaporation and transpiration

Well requiring a pump



Recharge Area





Water table



Unconfined aquifer

Confined aquifer

Less permeable material

such as clay

Confirming permeable rock layer

Fundamentals of Ground water(contd…)
fundamentals of ground water contd2
Fundamentals of Ground water(contd…)
  • Porosity: total void space in rock or soil as volume
    • 10% for glacial till
    • 20-50% for sands and gravels
    • 33-60% for clays
  • Effective porosity: ratio of void space through which water can flow to the total volume
  • Permeability: Degree of connectedness of the pores
fundamentals of ground water contd3
Fundamentals of Ground water(contd…)
  • Unconfined aquifers: water is in direct contact with the atmosphere through porous material
    • Allows for transfer of gases and water
  • Confined aquifers : aquifer is separated from the atmosphere by an aquiclude
    • Also called artesian; these are under pressure
  • Perched aquifers : bottom of the aquifer is constrained by an aquitard
water pollution
Water pollution
  • Increase in overall salinity of the groundwater,
  • Presence of high concentrations of fluoride, nitrate, iron, arsenic, total hardness and few toxic metal ions,
  • Like surface water pollution, groundwater is also susceptible to contamination from various natural and man-made sources.
  • Sources of Groundwater Pollution
  • Due to contamination by microbes, chemicals, hazardous substances and other foreign particles.
  • Industries which produce toxic effluent.
  • Agricultural run off.
  • Sewage
  • Trace Metals
  • Pesticide
kinds of water pollution
Kinds of Water Pollution
  • Inorganic Pollutants
  • Organic Pollutants

Each year another 700-800 new chemicals are produced

  • The 20 most abundant compounds in groundwater at industrial waste disposal sites include TCE, benzene, vinyl chloride…all are carcinogens, and also affect liver, brain, and nervous system
inorganic pollutants
Inorganic Pollutants
  • Examples: Pb in gasoline, RadionuclidesPhosphorus, nitrogen (Great Lakes),Other heavy metals.
  • It have 3 groups
      • 1) Produce no heavlth effects until a threshold concentration is exceeded—e.g., NO3 –ook at , 50mg/liter; at higher levels: methaemoglobinaemia
      • 2) No threshold—e.g.—genotoxic substances: some natural and synthetic organic compounds, microorganiccompunds, some pesticides, arsenic
      • 3) Essential to diets: F, I, Se—absence causes problems, but too much also causes problems
  • Inorganic Trace Contaminants:
  • Mercury—methyl Hg and dimethyl Hg in fish—probably most significant path to humans—Minamata Bay, Japan, 1950’s, Rhine River drains 185,000 sq km—heavily polluted by 1970’s
  • Lead—toxicity has been known for a long time

Tetraethyl lead—anti-knock additive for gas, 1930-1966


Phosphates—mostly a result of sewage outflow and phosphate detergents

    • Additional phosphate grows excess algae…oxygen depletion, Lake Erie…1972 phosphate management plant…$7.6 billion expense.
  • Nitrates—sewage and fertilizers.
  • Organic Pollutants:
  • Three classes of compounds
    • Pesticides and Herbicides
    • Materials for common household and industrial use
    • Materials for industrial use
  • Most present pesticides are 10-100 x more toxic than those used in 1050’s
  • Average lawn receives 10x more pesticides than equivalent area of cropland
  • Each year about 250,000 people are admitted to hospitals and/or emergency rooms with pesticide poisoning
  • Chlorinated hydrocarbons
    • DDT, heptachlor, etc—2-15 years
  • Organophosphates
    • Malathion, methyl parathion—1-2 weeks
  • Carbamates
    • Carbaryl, maneb, aldicarb—days to weeks
  • Pyrethroids
    • Pemethrin, decamethrin—days to weeks


Triazines—e.g. atrazine, paraquat

(interfere with photosynthesis)

Systemic—phenoxy compounds, N compounds, Alar, glyphosate

(create excess growth hormones)

Soil sterilants

trifluralin, dalapon

(kill soil microorganisms)

disadvantages of pesticides
Disadvantages of Pesticides
  • They accelerate the development of genetic resistance to pesticides by pest organisms

Since 1945, ~1000 species of insects and rodents and 550 species of weeds and plant diseases

  • They can put farmers on a financial treadmill
  • Some kill natural predators and parasites that control ‘pests’
  • They don’t stay put

—only 0.1 to 2% of stuff applied reaches target insect, 5% reaches target plant—the rest—into air, water, humans, wildlife

disadvantages of pesticides contd
Disadvantages of Pesticides (contd..)
  • Harm wildlife
    • USDA, USFWS: each year pesticides wipe out about 20% of honeybee population, damage another 15%, losing US farmers about $200 million/yr. Kill 6-14 million fish, ~67 million birds/year
  • Threaten human health

--Poison 3.5-5 million workers in developing countries, and at least 300,000 in US; cause about 20000-40000 deaths (about 25 in US) per year. Prob greatly underestimated.

--In food causes about 4000-20000 cases of cancer/year in US (Nat’l Academy of Sciences); genetic mutations, birth defects, nervous systems disorders, endocrine disorders.