Exposure and Health

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 331–348 | Cite as

Hydrogeochemical Characterization of Groundwater in and Around a Wastewater Irrigated Forest in the Southeastern Edge of the Tengger Desert, Northwest China

  • Peiyue LiEmail author
  • Jianhua Wu
  • Hui Qian
  • Yuting Zhang
  • Nuan Yang
  • Lijun Jing
  • Peiyuan Yu
Original Paper


Groundwater is an essential part of water resources for human survival and economic development in arid regions over the world. Human activities and environmental change have imposed significant impacts on groundwater environment. To investigate the hydrogeochemical characteristics and evolution of groundwater in and around a desert region impacted by wastewater irrigation, 84 groundwater samples were collected and analyzed for 18 indices. Statistical and graphical approaches were applied to delineate the general hydrochemical characteristics of groundwater and the major factors influencing its evolution. Stable isotopes of 2H and 18O were applied to identify groundwater evaporation process. Hydrogeochemical modeling was also adopted to quantify the major reactions occurring in the groundwater system. The results reveal that the abundance of cations is Na+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+ for groundwater in the entire study area, while the abundance of anions for groundwater in the desert region is HCO3  > Cl > SO4 2−, and that for groundwater in the alluvial plain is HCO3  > SO4 2− > Cl. Groundwater chemistry in the study area is mainly of rock dominance, and dissolution/precipitation of minerals and cation exchange are major natural factors governing the formation of groundwater chemistry. However, stable isotopes and the occurrence of nitrate show that shallow groundwater evaporation and human activities also have some impacts on groundwater quality. Hydrochemical type transits from Ca–Cl to HCO3·SO4–Ca type, and then to HCO3·SO4–Ca·Mg type along the flow path. The transition is influenced by multiple factors with water–rock interactions the predominant one. The water–rock interactions for the upper and lower sections of the flow path, indicated by hydrogeochemcial modeling, are different due to different geologic and hydrogeologic conditions.


Groundwater pollution Water quality Paper wastewater Hydrogeochemical modeling Tengger Desert 



We acknowledge the financial supports granted by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41502234), the Foundation of Outstanding Young Scholar of Chang’an University (310829153509), the General Financial Grant from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015M580804), the Special Financial Grant from the Shaanxi Postdoctoral Science Foundation, the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Central Colleges (310829151072), and the Innovation Training Program for Undergraduate Students of Chang’an University (201510710072). Jing Jin, Hongwei Liu, Rui Liu, Ming Xu, Yufei Chen, Chang Xu, Wenjuan Xi, Yulong Zhang, Jie Chen, Hui Tang, and Hui Jin are sincerely acknowledged for their assistance in field investigation and data analysis. The anonymous reviewers and editor are gratefully acknowledged for their useful comments regarding the original version of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effects in Arid Region of the Ministry of EducationChang’an UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringChang’an UniversityXi’anChina

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