Groundwater pollution

Polluted water and cracked soil during drought

Groundwater pollution can be defined as the intrusion of foreign matter to an aquifer. The pollutant creates a plume where the contaminant, along with the water movement, spreads over the aquifer’s area. Groundwater pollution can be caused by on-site sanitation systems, effluents coming from wastewater treatment plants, landfills, leakages from sewage pipelines, gas stations or intensive agriculture fields. Contamination can also occur from natural sources, such as continental rocks containing arsenic or fluoride which are not easy to remove when groundwater is intended for drinking purposes.

Prevention and control measures should be prioritised to avoid costly groundwater remediation since pollution in aquifers is invisible and complex; having a long-term impact. Groundwater pollution risk assessment has proven to be a useful tool for designing and developing efficient groundwater management and protection strategies.