A Detailed Assessment of Groundwater Quality in the Kabul Basin, Afghanistan, and Suitability for Future Development
Department of Geology, Faculty of Geosciences, Bamyan University, Bamyan 1601, Afghanistan
Department of Geosciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA
The Environment & Resource Efficiency Cluster (EREC) Nazarbayev University, Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System, Nur Sultan 010000, Kazakhstan
Water Sciences Laboratory, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68503, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2890; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102890
Received: 23 September 2020 / Revised: 7 October 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 16 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing Surface and Ground- Water Vulnerability and Pollution Risk)
Kabul is one of the most populated cities in Afghanistan and providing resources to support this population in an arid climate presents a serious environmental challenge. The current study evaluated the quality of local Kabul Basin groundwater to determine its suitability water for drinking and irrigation purposes now and into the future. This aim was aided through groundwater parameter assessment as well as determination of Water Quality Index (WQI) developed from 15 observation points near the city. The results of our physicochemical analysis illustrate that groundwater in the majority of areas of the Kabul Basin is not generally suitable for human consumption, and in some cases the concentrations of many contaminants are higher than accepted health standards or water quality benchmarks. The aquifer underlies an arid landscape, and because of this 85% of the samples tested are very hard while just over 13% are classified as hard. Groundwater in the Kabul Basin is typically high in calcium and magnesium and overall classified as a calcium bicarbonate water type. Overall, more than 60% of the analyzed samples had concentrations higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of total dissolved solids (TDS), 10% in total hardness (TH), about 30% in turbidity and more than 90% in magnesium. The results show that based on WQI, without treatment, roughly 5% of groundwater in the studied area is unsuitable for human consumption, while 13.3% is very poor and 40% is poor quality water. Approximately 40% of the assessed groundwater has good quality and could be used as drinking water for future development. Groundwater in some areas shows evidence of pollution and high dissolved solids content, rendering these sources unsuitable for either drinking or irrigation purposes.