Hydrogeological vulnerability and pollution risk mapping of the Saq and overlying aquifers using the DRASTIC model and GIS techniques, NW Saudi Arabia
Faisal K. Zaidi
Nassir S. N. Al-Arifi
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Saq and overlying aquifers serve as important sources of water supply for agricultural and domestic usage in Saudi Arabia. Due to urbanization and growth in the agricultural sector, groundwater resources are over-exploited and are prone to quality deterioration. The aquifer vulnerability technique helps delineate areas according to the susceptibility to groundwater contamination. Various parameters pertaining to the surface and subsurface environment were synthesized to represent the data variation in the 3D horizon. Estimates of the parameters, such as recharge, soil media, and vadose zone, were obtained based on modified criteria to account for data variability. Statistical analysis indicates that the input parameters are independent and contribute individually to the vulnerability index. For vulnerability assessment, the DRASTIC model was considered due to the large number of data input parameters. Based on the vulnerability index, the study area is classified into low to very high vulnerability classes. To assess the human interaction on the groundwater environment, the land-use pattern was included as an additional input layer. Sensitivity analyses helped to compute the influence of the input layers on the vulnerability index and the model calibration through revised weights. The model validity tests were performed by comparing the NO3, SO4 and Cl concentration with the different vulnerability zones. The aquifer vulnerability maps developed in the present study may serve as an important tool for effective groundwater resource management.