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Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No.

4 (2015) 35-43

Assessment of Groundwater Quality Using GIS - A Case

Study of the Churu District of Rajasthan

A. N. Singh1, Anuradha D.1 and Satish Mohanty2

Department of Civil Engineering, BITS-Pilani, Rajasthan, India; E-mail:

Department of EEE, BITS-Pilani, Rajasthan, India

Assessment of Groundwater quality using the Water Quality Index (WQI) and the Geographic Information
System (GIS) was carried out in the Churu district of Rajasthan. The results of 8 physico-chemical
parameters were used for the calculation of the WQI. The results indicated that the WQI values range from
0 to 789 and thus indicates very poor groundwater quality status in the region in one case. The results of
8 physico-chemical parameters were used in the second case resulting in a WQI range from 0 to 3,279.
The geographical information system using the Inverse Distance Weighted method (IDW) delineated three
groundwater quality zones into good to very poor. The hierarchal cluster analysis identified anthropogenic
contamination and natural mineralization as the major processes controlling groundwater chemistry. From
the correlation matrix, it could be said that Turbidity, Fluorides as F- and TDS are responsible for high WQI
values in the region. The trend of WQI is very similar in both cases used to determine WQI. In arid regions
the WQI should be high.
Keywords: WQI, GIS, Dendrogram, Anthropogenic Contamination, Natural Mineralization.

Introduction Assessment of groundwater quality through Water

Quality Index (WQI) studies and spatial distribution
The determination of groundwater quality for human of WQI utilizing GIS technology could be useful
consumption is important for the well being of the ever for policy makers to take remedial measures. GIS
increasing population (Ishaku, 2011). The supply of can be a powerful tool for developing solutions for
good quality water is one of the important components water resources problems to assess water quality,
of groundwater protection and conservation strategies determining water availability, understanding the
and therefore useful in the planning and management natural environment on a local and/or regional
of groundwater. Groundwater quality depends on the scale (Swarna and Nageswara Rao, 2010). The
quality of recharged water, atmospheric precipitation, geographical information system and WQI, which
inland surface water and subsurface geochemical synthesizes different available water quality data into
processes (Reza and Singh, 2010; Vasanthavigar et an easily understandable format, provide a way to
al., 2010). The authors further stressed that temporal summarize overall water quality conditions that can be
changes in the origin and constitution of the recharged clearly communicated to policy makers (Strivastava et
water, hydrologic and human factors may cause al., 2011). Therefore, this study is focused on the results
periodic change in groundwater quality. Water pollution of physico-chemical analysis of various parameters for
not only affects water quality but also threatens human domestic use and development of WQI, and mapping
health, economic development, and social prosperity of their spatial distribution using GIS techniques. The
(Milovanović, 2007). Hence, evaluation of groundwater study is also aimed at determining the major processes
quality status for human consumption is important controlling groundwater chemistry.
for socio-economic growth, development and also
Nelson et al. (2004), says that WQI is defined as an
for establishing a database for planning future water
evaluation of the physical, chemical and biological
resource development strategies.
nature of water with respect to its natural quality,
Water Quality Index (WQI) is an important technique human effects and intended uses. It reduces a list of
for demarcating groundwater quality and its suitability parameters to a simpler expression to enable easier
for drinking purposes (Tiwari and Mishra, 1985). interpretation of monitoring data. Insaf et al. (2007),

UDK: 628.112(540) 35
Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2015) 35-43

worked on groundwater quality index using GIS, Where Vi = observed value of the ith parameter at a
where he calculated the normalised sub indices and given sampling site and Si = water quality standard.
then ranked them. His study area is a few km2 and the Thus, the larger the value of qi, the more polluted
parameters he used are only chemical parameters the water is, with respect to the corresponding
containing ions. The final index is represented in % standard value (mg/L).
not in values. He then selected the combination of
The overall water quality index was calculated by
parameters to show the variability of groundwater.
aggregating these quality ratings linearly as follows,
Noha Donia (2011), used the IDW for interpolating
the samples values and uses equations: qi=100(vi/
si), wqi=sigma (i=1 to n) (qi) and AWQI= sigma
(qi)(i=1 to n)/n to calculate the index. The value
between 0 to 100 is considered as good quality and Where n = number of parameters. The average
above is not recommended for drinking use. water quality index (AWQI) for n parameters was
calculated using this equation,
Ramakrishnaiah et al. (2009) and Ishaku (2011)
have used the relative weight method to calculate
the index value, i.e. a weight is assigned to each
parameter is divided by the sum of all weights.
A quality rating scale (Qi) for each parameter is
assigned by dividing its concentration in each Katyal (2011) et al studied many quality indexes
groundwater sample by its respective standard for water and suggested that every area has been
according to the guidelines by IS:10500 and the affected by different parameters and that different
result is multiplied by 100 (Gebrehiwot et al., weights could be used in various regions. F Ghadimi
2011). Then the Quality rating scale is multiplied by (2012) has used 2 indices and done statistical analysis
relative weight and summation of all sub indexes of them to calculate the WQI of water. He also
to get the quality index (QI). To get the final WQI, concluded that hydrochemical data were classified in
summation of all sub indexes is done. Where, Qi is to 2 main groups: 1 - natural and; 2 - mining or leaching
the quality rating, Ci is the concentration of each sources. Mouna (2011) used the simple WQI equation
parameter in each water sample, and Si is the WHO to calculate the qi for water using the weightage for
drinking water standard for each parameter. For various parameters analysed for the samples. They
computing the WQI, the SI is first determined for categorised each parameter into 3 categories i.e.
each parameter, which is then used to determine permissible limit, below limit and above limit and
the WQI as indicated by the following equation produced the spatial distribution map of all parameters.
(Reza and Singh, 2010): These equations are
From the literature it is clear that all have attempted
given below:
a small area for their study with a maximum of 25
samples for calculating the WQI. It would be easier
to handle complex equations with a smaller number
of samples in calculating WQI but when a large area
and huge number of samples will be used, then
simple equations would be used to maintain control
on measurement of WQI.
Cluster analysis (CA) is a simple approach for
classification of groundwater quality into two or
more mutually exclusive unknown groups based
Where SIi is the sub index of ith parameter; Qi is on the combination of interval variables (Hussein,
the rating based on concentration of ith parameter 2004). The tool sorts out different objects into groups
and n is the number of parameters. QIj is the quality such that the degree of association between the
index of physical and chemical parameters. objects is maximal if they belong to the same group
(Hamzaoui-Azaza et al., 2009). The hierarchal
Another set of equations used to calculate the WQI cluster analysis according to Ward (1963), with
is given from equation B.1 to Eq B.3 (Tiwari and squared Euclidean distances, was applied to detect
Manzoor, 1988). multivariate similarities in groundwater quality.
The quality rating qi, for the ith water quality
parameter can be obtained by the following relation,
Case Study
Description of the Study Area
The study area is the Churu district of the Rajasthan
state of India. It is located between latitudes

Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2015) 35-43

27°28’12”N to 29°0’ 02”N and longitudes 73°37’41”E

to 75°40’01”E (Figure 1), and covers an area of
about 16,830 km2.

Figure 2: Geological map of the study area

Figure 1: Map of the study area showing Materials and Methods

sampling points.
88 water samples were collected from the different
The area is characterized by dry and hot seasons locations and the same type of well. The positions of
with arid to semi arid climatic conditions. The the different water locations were determined using
rainy season commences in June and ends in GIS and recorded by GPS. After collection of the
mid September. The average rainfall is about 100 samples, field parameters such as Temperature,
mm, and the mean annual evapo-transpiration Colour, Turbidity, pH, Nitrate as NO3-, Nitrite as
of about 1200 mm, and the mean minimum and NO2-, Fluoride as F-, and TDS were determined
maximum temperatures of 1°C and 51.7°C. The in the laboratory using (standard methods 19th
major occupation of the people is agriculture, salt edition, 1995) the titration method. The samples for
production and stone quarrying and the area is chemical analysis were delivered within 48 hours
characterized by rural and urban settings. Sources of collection to laboratory. The sampling was done
of water supply are from electricity run deep bore in the pre and post monsoon season of 2012. The
wells and shallow boreholes. Some villages and summary of values of various parameters is given
towns are getting the water supply from Indira in Table 1.
Gandhi Canal, but it is very irregular. There have
The cluster analysis result is presented by
been some cases where livestock had rejected
dendrogram (Figure 8), in which these 8 parameters
this water for drinking. These sources of water
are grouped and their proximity of association is
supply are unreliable as the quality of the water
is poor coupled with poor sanitary conditions. The
type of waste disposal practice in the area is the The 2 methods were used to calculate WQI in the
open dump waste disposal system for household study area in which both are derived from empirical
solid waste, and most residents use pit latrines. formulas used by many authors.
As the area is free from surface water and has
very low rainfall, the possibility of waste leaching
during rain is very rare. The main objectives of the GIS Geo-data base
present study involve analysis of water samples for
physico-chemical parameters and development of A map showing sampling points (Figure 1) was
a Water Quality Index, and mapping of their spatial generated using the grid point generation toll in Arc
distribution using GIS techniques. The study is also GIS version 9.2 using the study area boundary map
aimed at determining the processes responsible which was scanned, geo referenced and digitized.
for controlling groundwater chemistry. The area is After the grid was generated in Arc GIS, the
underlain by the Quaternary (late Pleistocene) age sampling points were transferred to GPS and taken
deposits and consists of Aeolian sediments (Figure to the study area for sample collection. The water
2). The Thar Desert covers the Quaternary (aeolian samples were collected and analyzed for different
sediment) deposits. physico-chemical parameters and then used for
calculation of WQI.

Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2015) 35-43

The different locations of the sampling points were introduced in GIS software through point layer. Each
sample point was assigned a unique code and stored in the attribute table. The geo-database was used
to generate the spatial distribution maps of WQI. The present study used the Inverse Distance Weighting
(IDW) method for spatial interpolation of WQI as IDW is an interpolation technique in which interpolated
estimates are made based on values at nearby locations weighted only by distance from the interpolation
location (Naoum and Tsanis, 2004)

Table 1: Statistical summary of physico-chemical parameters of samples in the study area.

Range of value Pre Monsoon Range of value Post Monsoon
Parameters Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
Temperature (°C) 28.2 33.7 16.4 17.8
Colour (Hazen unit) 0 20 0 10
Turbidity (NTU) 0 10 0 6
pH 6.7 8.2 6.7 8.5
Nitrate as NO3- (mg/l) 5 790 2 1803
Nitrite as NO2- (mg/l) 0.01 0.3 0.01 0.032
Fluoride as F- (mg/l) 0.1 13.6 0.1 21
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS ) (mg/l) 90 11400 140 13600

Calculation of the WQI Table 2: Acceptable limit of parameters

Physico-Chemical Standard permissible Value
Case I: parameter (s) (IS:10500)
Temperature (°C) 27
The parameter’s standard range (Acceptable limit
Colour (Hazen unit) 5
by IS/WHO) is given in Table 2 and it is used to
Turbidity (NTU) 10
calculate the WQI for the study area. pH 6.5-8.5
8 physico-chemical parameters consisting of Nitrate as NO3- (mg/l) 45
Temperature, Colour, Turbidity, pH, Nitrate as NO3-, Nitrite as NO2- (mg/l) 0.01
Nitrite as NO2-, Fluoride as F-, and TDS were Fluoride as F- (mg/l) 0.6-1.2
TDS (mg/l) 500
considered in the calculation of the WQI. Water
Quality Index (WQI) calculation involves three
stages. The equations used in it are mentioned Table 3: Relative weight of parameters
above from B1 to B3. The spatial distribution of the Chemical parameters
Weight given Relative Weight
(Wi) (RW)
quality index for both monsoons is shown in Figure
Temperature (°C) 1 0.0625
3a and 3b respectively.
Colour (Hazen unit) 0 0
Case II: Turbidity (NTU) 0 0
pH 2 0.125
The weight of 1-5 depending on the values of the Nitrate as NO3- (mg/l) 5 0.3125
parameters are given. If the difference between Nitrite as NO2- (mg/l) 1 0.0625
the value and the acceptable value range is low, Fluoride as F- (mg/l) 3 0.1875
then the weight of 1 is given and if the difference TDS (mg/l) 4 0.25
is high than the weight is 5. The Weight (w) has ΣWi = 16, ΣRW = 1.000
been assigned according to its concentration and
relative importance in the overall quality of water for Results and Discussion
drinking purposes (Table 2). The relative weight has
Table 1 shows the range of various parameters in
also been calculated and given in Table 3.
the study area. The main data indicates the average
The following 8 physico-chemical parameters were values of pH as 7.4 and 7.5 for Pre Monsoon and
considered in the calculation of WQI: Temperature, Post Monsoon which indicates a basic (alkaline)
Colour, Turbidity, pH, Nitrate as NO3-, Nitrite as NO2-, condition of the groundwater samples. TDS indicates
Fluoride as F-, and TDS. In it, a few of the locations the different types of minerals present the in water,
had negative values of WQI which were treated as and from this study, it indicates an average value of
zero as no value is below zero in any of the quality 2196.52 mg/l in pre monsoon and 2077.55 mg/l in
indexes. post monsoon. The mean value of TDS is above the
A set of equations from A1 to A5 were used to recommended limit of IS: 10500. the anions reveal
calculate the WQI. Figures 5a and 5b show the average values of Nitrate as NO3- (151.15 mg/l in
spatial distribution of the water quality indexes in pre monsoon and 175.57 mg/l in post monsoon),
the study area for both monsoons. Nitrite as NO2- (0.02 mg/l in pre monsoon and 0.01

Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2015) 35-43

in post monsoon), Fluoride as F- (0.91 mg/l in pre monsoon and 1.45 mg/l in post monsoon duration)
respectively. All the mean concentrations of the parameters are above IS: 10500 recommended limits
except Colour and Turbidity. The mean values of anions reveal an order of abundance as NO3- > F- > NO2-.

Figure 3a: Spatial Distribution of Water Quality Index (case I) in the study area for Pre Monsoon duration.

Figure 3b: Spatial Distribution of Water Quality Index (case I) in the study area for Post Monsoon duration.

Table 4: Water quality classification standard

Value Range WQI Status
0-50 Good
51-100 Bad
>100 Very Bad

Figure 4: Water Quality Index (case I) of

groundwater samples location for Pre & Post
Monsoon duration.

Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2015) 35-43

Figure 5a: Spatial Distribution of Water Quality Index (case II) in the study area for Pre Monsoon duration.

Figure 5b: Spatial Distribution of Water Quality Index (case II) in the study area for Post Monsoon duration.
Table 5: Computed values of WQI in the study Area The groundwater quality index assessed in Case I from
WQI Remarks Pre Monsoon Post Monsoon the groundwater quality data values range from 0-543
Case I and 0- 789 during pre and post monsoon respectively
0-50: west part and (Table 5). Based on the standard classification (Table
few small patches 4), the groundwater quality status ranges from good
< 50 Good 0-50: west part
developed in west
part to very bad. Figures 3a and 3b classify the WQI
51-100: few small 51-100: small values into three groundwater quality zones (good,
51-100 poor patches in study patches in study bad and very bad) and provide the spatial extent of
area area
it. The areas covered by the very good water quality
Very 101-643: complete 101-789: complete
>100 lie in the western portion of the study area and are
poor area area
Case II confined to a very local portion. The bad quality water
0-50: west part, 0-50: west part, in is present in small patches in the rest of the area.
< 50 Good few local patch NE small local patch The remaining area have very bad water quality. After
randomly distributed developed
50-100: negligible
rain, a local patch of good water quality in the western
51-100 poor 50-100: shift in area portion developed. The distribution of wells in the

Very 101-2729: complete 101-3279: complete value range of the quality index is visible in Figure 4
poor area area and displays the changes during 2 different seasons.

Singh et al. Water Research and Management, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2015) 35-43

The water quality index assessed in Case II from The value range for water quality index categories
the groundwater quality data; values ranged from has been assigned by checking the weight-age given
0-2729 and 0-3279 during pre and post monsoon to wells in the quality index calculation i.e. the WQI =0
respectively (Table 5). In this case the water quality to 50 means the water is safe for human consumption
is categorized into good, bad and very bad zones. and the values exceeding 50 are not safe for
Figures 5a and 5b showing the spatial extent of the consumption as all parameters are crossing specified
WQI, indicating that the higher values of WQI are limits of water quality for human consumption.
associated with the Churu district, and have been The results in Table 5 show that every method
found to be mainly due to nitrate and total dissolved would generate a different value range of water
solids. During pre monsoon, the western part of the quality indexes. It would be difficult to standardize
study area has good quality water. Some very local the value range of WQI. In this work we have shown
patches of good WQI are randomly present in the that one equation reduces the value range while the
area. The bad quality index has a negligible area other increases it.
and only makes a thin boundary between the good
The comparison of the 2 different WQI derived
and very bad WQI region. The rest of the area has
from two different sets of equations shows that the
very bad water quality. While, during post monsoon
pattern is the same for water quality during pre and
the local patches of good water quality developed
post monsoon from one set of eq. (The location
in NE of the study area. For the rest of region having low values of WQI from one set of eq. also
conditions remained very similar to that of the pre has low WQI from another set of eq.; but there is
monsoon. The bad quality area slightly increases offset present between them). The location having
from pre monsoon to post monsoon. Figure 6 show a high WQI value in Case 1 also showed high WQI
the variation of distribution of wells in the study area values in Case 2 (Fig 7a and 7b).
and where they stand on the WQI scale.

Figure 7a: Water Quality Index (case 1 & Case 2)

Figure 6: Water Quality Index (case II) of of groundwater samples location for Pre Monsoon
groundwater samples location for Pre & Post duration.
Monsoon duration.

The hierarchal cluster analysis was applied to

identify the processes controlling groundwater
chemistry. The dendrogram (Figure 8) displayed
two clusters. Cluster 1 comprised of turbidity,
colour and temperature showing close linkage
and Cluster 2 comprised of TDS, Nitrate, Nitrite,
Fluoride and pH and joined with the same Cluster
1. This cluster is interpreted as anthropogenic Figure 7b: Water Quality Index (case 1 & Case 2)
contamination of water, which might be related to of groundwater samples location for Post Monsoon
natural processes. duration.

Table 6: Correlation matrix (Pearson) of physic-chemical parameters in the study area

Temp Colour Turbidity ph NO3- NO2- F- TDS
Temp 1
Colour -0.1330 1
Turbidity 0.10415 0.9560 1
ph -0.4116 -0.0115 -0.0057 1
NO3 -
0.0304 -0.0759 -0.0769 -0.00073 1
NO2- 0.0516 0.0059 0.0587 0.06142 0.2589 1
F- -0.281 -0.0378 -0.0398 0.3825 0.25537 0.0771 1
TDS -0.3687 -0.0728 -0.05803 0.1955 0.4742 0.2234 0.2533 1

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