Assessment of groundwater quality and its suitability for irrigation: the case of Souf Valley phreatic aquifer

I. Bioud, A. Semar, A. Laribi, S. Douaibia, M.N. Chabaca


In arid regions, groundwater is the major freshwater source for agriculture. Actually, groundwater quality is a major issue for irrigation in many arid regions such as the Algerian Sahara. The present study assesses the quality of the groundwater of the Souf Valley phreatic aquifer for irrigation, using the common parameters for irrigation water. 36 samples were taken in two agricultural areas in this valley. Samples temperature (T), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), major cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+) and major anions (Cl-, SO42-, HCO3-, NO3-) were analyzed according to the American Public Health Association Standards. Piper diagram showed that this water is Ca-Cl (78%) and SO4-Ca (14%) dominant. The chemical Souf Valley Groundwater composition is altered by evaporation and contamination by hypersaline surface water. Also by Carbonate minerals precipitation and evaporites dissolution, according to saturation indices derived by the PHREEQC thermodynamic model. According to water quality for irrigation parameters (Na%, MH, PS, CE) in addition to Riverside and Wilcox diagrams, this aquifer is of poor water quality for irrigation. The majority of analyzed samples present a weak danger of alkalinization and a low percentage of magnesium. However, their salinity is very high for all samples which results in a high risk of soil salinization, this level of salinity may threaten the sustainability of agriculture in this area.  The results presented in this paper can be used to develop a sustainable irrigation management in this area. 

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