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Water 2018, 10(2), 143;

Groundwater Overexploitation and Seawater Intrusion in Coastal Areas of Arid and Semi-Arid Regions

Laboratory for Applied Geology and Hydrogeology, Department of Geology, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281 S8, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Geology Department, Az Zawiyah University, Az Zawiyah, Libya
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 24 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
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The exploitation of groundwater resources is of high importance and has become very crucial in the last decades, especially in coastal areas of arid and semi-arid regions. The coastal aquifers in these regions are particularly at risk due to intrusion of salty marine water. One example is the case of Tripoli city at the Mediterranean coast of Jifarah Plain, North West Libya. Libya has experienced progressive seawater intrusion in the coastal aquifers since the 1930s because of its ever increasing water demand from underground water resources. Tripoli city is a typical area where the contamination of the aquifer in the form of saltwater intrusion is very developed. Sixty-four groundwater samples were collected from the study area and analyzed for certain parameters that indicate salinization and pollution of the aquifer. The results demonstrate high values of the parameters Electrical Conductivity, Na+, K+, Mg2+, Cl and SO42−, which can be attributed to seawater intrusion, where Cl is the major pollutant of the aquifer. The water types according to the Stuyfzand groundwater classification are mostly CaCl, NaCl and Ca/MgMix. These water types indicate that groundwater chemistry is changed by cation exchange reactions during the mixing process between freshwater and seawater. The intensive extraction of groundwater from the aquifer reduces freshwater outflow to the sea, creates drawdown cones and lowering of the water table to as much as 25 m below mean sea level. Irrigation with nitrogen fertilizers and domestic sewage and movement of contaminants in areas of high hydraulic gradients within the drawdown cones probably are responsible for the high NO3 concentration in the region. View Full-Text
Keywords: seawater intrusion; coastal aquifer; arid and semi-arid regions; cation exchange; Tripoli; Libya seawater intrusion; coastal aquifer; arid and semi-arid regions; cation exchange; Tripoli; Libya

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Alfarrah, N.; Walraevens, K. Groundwater Overexploitation and Seawater Intrusion in Coastal Areas of Arid and Semi-Arid Regions. Water 2018, 10, 143.

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