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Factors Controlling the Spatial Distribution and Temporal Trend of Nationwide Groundwater Quality in Korea

Chang-Seong Kim , Maimoona Raza , Jin‐Yong Lee , Heejung Kim , Chanhyeok Jeon , Bora Kim , Jeong-Woo Kim , Rak-Hyeon Kim
Published: 27 November 2020
 by  MDPI
Sustainability , Volume 12; doi:10.3390/su12239971

Abstract: Factors controlling the spatial distribution and temporal trend of groundwater quality at a national scale are important to investigate for sustaining livelihood and ecological balance. This study evaluated groundwater quality data for 12 parameters (n = 6405 for each parameter), collected from 97 groundwater monitoring stations (=289 monitoring wells) for ten years. Spatial distribution of groundwater quality parameters varied through the regional scale. Six parameters: T, EC, Ca2+, Mg2+, HCO3−, and Cl− were having dominant increasing trend, remaining pH, Eh, Na+, K+, SO42−, and NO3− showed a dominant decreasing trend over time. Among land use types, the upland fields had the highest mean of groundwater NO3− (22.2 mg/L), confirming plenty of application of fertilizers (5–10 kg/a more than standard) to upland fields. Means of groundwater Cl− and Na+ (705.3 and 298.4 mg/L, respectively) in the residential areas are greater than those in other land use types by 408–685.9, 154.3–274.2 mg/L, respectively. Agricultural activities were the main controlling factor of groundwater NO3− contamination in rural areas, domestic activities were responsible for groundwater Cl− and Na+ in urban areas, and seawater intrusion was controlling groundwater Cl− in coastal areas (within 10 km from sea). Groundwater hydrochemistry was controlled by the mechanism of geogenic rock and evaporation dominance. The rock dominance mechanism indicated that groundwater was interacting with rocks and resulted in groundwater chemistry. The findings of this study showed that groundwater was mainly contaminated by anthropogenic factors in some rural and residential areas. Effective measures by government authorities are needed to improve the groundwater quality.
Keywords: spatial distribution / Domestic Sewage / Groundwater quality / seawater intrusion / Temporal trend / agricultural activities / hydrochemical mechanism

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