Does irrigation with reclaimed water significantly pollute shallow aquifer with nitrate and salinity? An assay in a perurban area in North Tunisia

Makram Anane*, Youssef Selmi, Atef Limam, Naceur Jedidi, Salah Jellali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In Tunisia, reclaimed water is increasingly used for irrigation in order to mitigate water shortage. However, few studies have addressed the effect of such practice on the environment. Thus, we attempted in this paper to assess the impact of irrigation with reclaimed water on the nitrate content and salinity in the Nabeul shallow aquifer on the basis of satellite images and data from 53 sampled wells. Ordinary and indicator kriging were used to map the spatial variability of these groundwater chemical parameters and to locate the areas where water is suitable for drinking and irrigation. The results of this study have shown that reclaimed water is not an influential factor on groundwater contamination by nitrate and salinity. Cropping density is the main factor contributing to nitrate groundwater pollution, whereas salinity pollution is affected by a conjunction of factors such as seawater interaction and lithology. The predictive maps show that nitrate content in the groundwater ranges from 9.2 to 206 mg/L while the electric conductivity ranges from 2.2 to 8.5 dS/m. The high-nitrate concentration areas underlie sites with high annual crop density, whereas salinity decreases gradually moving away from the coastline. The probability maps reveal that almost the entire study area is unsuitable for drinking with regard to nitrate and salinity levels. Appropriate measures, such as the elaboration of codes of good agricultural practices and action programs, should be undertaken in order to prevent and/or remediate the contamination of the Nabeul shallow aquifer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4367-4390
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Geostatistics
  • Groundwater pollution
  • Irrigation
  • Reclaimed water
  • Tunisia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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