Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 36, pp 36306–36327 | Cite as

Groundwater quality assessment of the Takelsa phreatic aquifer (Northeastern Tunisia) using geochemical and statistical methods: implications for aquifer management and end-users

  • Nesrine GhouiliEmail author
  • Fadoua Hamzaoui-Azaza
  • Mounira Zammouri
  • Mohamed Faouzi Zaghrarni
  • Faten Jarraya Horriche
  • Maria Teresa Condesso de Melo
Research Article


The Takelsa phreatic aquifer (Northeastern Tunisia) is an important source of fresh water for different economic sectors in the region that are strongly dependent on groundwater resources but, the aquifer is showing increasing signs of groundwater quality degradation like many other regions in the Mediterranean Basin. By integrating geochemical and multivariate statistical investigation methods, this research aims to identify the main geochemical processes and anthropogenic activities that are responsible for regional groundwater quality evolution, identifying the origins of salinity and nutrients, and their implications for groundwater use forcropirrigation and drinking water supply in order to improve aquifer management practices. The results show that groundwater facies vary from Ca–Mg–SO4 to Na–Cl water type and that mineralization is strongly controlled by mineral dissolution and cation exchange. The isotopic analyses indicate that groundwater is recharged by rainwater infiltration at higher altitudes and that a cumulative evaporative effect may contribute to local increase of salt content in groundwater. The Water Quality Index (WQI) used to determine the suitability of the Takelsa groundwater for drinking purposes reveals that just half of the groundwater points sampled show good to excellent quality for human consumption. The groundwater quality is also limited for irrigation purposes due to anthropogenic activities existing throughout the region. As groundwater in the studied region is crucial for irrigation and human supply, the identified groundwater quality problems and the identification of the main processes responsible for them should contribute to improve the infrastructure and managementpractices to allow the region to sustainable exploit the available groundwater resources.


Groundwater quality Geochemistry Multivariate analysis Stable isotopes Takelsa phreatic aquifer Sustainability 



The authors would like to specially thank all the technical staff and the manager of the Integrated Water Sciences Laboratory of the Higher Institute of Sciences and Techniques of Water of Gabes for their contribution to the analyses of the chemical and isotopic elements. We would also like to thank the General Direction of Water Resources (DGRE) and the Regional Direction of Agriculture development of Nabeul (CRDA Nabeul). We acknowledge the anonymous reviewers of this article for their comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nesrine Ghouili
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fadoua Hamzaoui-Azaza
    • 3
  • Mounira Zammouri
    • 1
  • Mohamed Faouzi Zaghrarni
    • 4
  • Faten Jarraya Horriche
    • 2
  • Maria Teresa Condesso de Melo
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, Sedimentary environments, Oil systems and Reservoir characterization LaboratoryUniversity of Tunis El ManarTunisTunisia
  2. 2.Center of Water Research and Technologies, Geo-resources LaboratoryTechno-park Borj-CedriaSolimanTunisia
  3. 3.Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, Research Unit of Geochemistry and Environmental GeologyUniversity of Tunis El ManarTunisTunisia
  4. 4.Higher Institute of Sciences and Techniques of WaterUniversity of GabesGabesTunisia
  5. 5.CERISInstituto Superior Técnico. University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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