Assessment of Water Quality and Quantity trends in Kabul Aquifers with an outline for future water supplies

Abdulhalim Zaryab, Ali Reza Noori, Kai Wegerich, Bjørn Kløve

Scientific Article


The water supply to Kabul city is at serious risk due to groundwater over abstraction and severe contamination by sewage. The water overuse is partly due to poor management and a long period of war, and instability in Afghanistan. In recent years shallow wells have been installed and financed by aid programmes, but this, along with high population increase has also lead to over-use of groundwater resources. The current water supply of about 85% inhabitants depends exclusively on local, individual groundwater sources, obtained predominantly from shallow aquifers, mainly, by hand-pumps. The paper analyses the status and trends of the Kabul groundwater system and assesses new solutions to meet the future water supply demand. The status of groundwater shows that groundwater levels are declining quickly (1 m/year) and several wells are already dry. Moreover, water quality analyses of the Kabul aquifers show a negative trend in groundwater quality in respect to concentration of nitrates, borates and faecal microbes(indicated by the coliform bacteria). This pollution exceeds the maximum permissible values determined by the WHO. To provide new solutions for Kabul city, a master plan for future water resources has been developed and this is further discussed.

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nitrate, overuse, pathogens, water supply

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