Earth Science Frontiers ›› 2022, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (3): 51-63.DOI: 10.13745/j.esf.sf.2022.1.29

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Comprehensive evaluation of regional groundwater pollution: Research status and suggestions

HE Baonan1(), HE Jiangtao1,*(), SUN Jichao2, WANG Junjie3, WEN Dongguang4, JIN Jihong2, PENG Cong1, ZHANG Changyan1   

  1. 1. Beijing Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Water Resources and Environment, China University of Geosciences(Beijing), Beijing 10083, China
    2. Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050061, China
    3. Development Research Center of the Ministry of Water Resources, Beijing 100038, China
    4. Hydrogeology and Environmental Geological Survey Center of China Geological Survey, Baoding 071051, China
  • Received:2021-10-08 Revised:2022-02-10 Online:2022-05-25 Published:2022-04-28
  • Contact: HE Jiangtao


A comprehensive evaluation of regional groundwater pollution is essential for understanding the regional groundwater quality characteristics, pollution status and mechanism, and groundwater quality evolution. Such evaluation also serves as an important basis for groundwater pollution prevention and control and water quality improvement. However, due to inherent limitations of certain conventional concepts, opinions and research practices in the field of hydrogeology, there are many problems and challenges associated with groundwater quality and pollution evaluation, such as the lacks of clear distinction between natural poor quality water and polluted water and impact assessment of human activities. Therefore, the reliability of the evaluation results is often questioned, which causes confusion among government agencies over pollution control application and decision making. To improve this situation, this study sought to assess the current status of comprehensive evaluation of regional groundwater pollution based on the evaluation results of recent years, review the problems associated with the groundwater quality evaluation, background value, pollution evaluation, and distinction between poor water quality and water quality degradation, identify the anthropogenic pollution activities, and ultimately make some suggestions. The resulting suggestions include: (1) Establish an evaluation framework with the “indicator classification evaluation-combination expression” approach to minimize ambiguity and misleadings in the evaluation results. (2) Establish apparent background value to facilitate the assessment of pollution status, differentiation between poor water quality and water quality deterioration, and identification of impactful anthropogenic activities. (3) Clarify the distinction between poor quality water and quality degraded water in order to effectively distinguish between natural poor quality water and polluted water, elucidate the impact of these water types on the groundwater quality, and help decision-makers understand the causes of unsafe water. (4) Identify and quantify anthropogenic pollution activities to help understand water pollution caused by imported pollution, induced water quality deterioration and change of water hydrochemical property, and highlight the trends of groundwater quality evolution to develop better pollution prevention and control methods.

Key words: groundwater, water quality evaluation, pollution assessment, apparent background value, poor quality water, human activity

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