Groundwater quality impacted by land use/land cover change in a semiarid region of Mexico


Aquifers in arid and semi-arid areas face great challenges, one of which is implementing a sustainable management instead of mining nearby aquifers. A further challenge is relying on scant and fragmented groundwater information. This study related water quality to land use/land cover (LU/LC) to better understand the response of two aquifers in northern Mexico, Tabalaopa-Aldama (TAB) and Aldama-San Diego (ASD), to human stresses. Fifteen wells were sampled in May, July and October of 2015. The results show a water quality variations with respect to season and to areas where LU/LC has recently changed. Contaminants of concern are As, F, and nitrate. While As and F are natural contaminants, nitrate is anthropogenic, likely a result from wastewater and/or agricultural waste discharges. A relationship between water quality and LU/LC change was observed. Each basin suffered about 46 km2 loss in rangeland between 1993 and 2012; TAB basin to urban and ASD basin to agricultural use. Besides exposing the location of contamination and type of contaminants, water quality data can be used to assess the rate at which aquifers are being degraded (or reclaimed), whereas the combination water quality - LU/LC change offers insights on potential practices that could be implemented towards sustainability.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type




aquifer, arsenic, chihuahua, land use, water quality, sustainability

Publication Date


Journal Title

Groundwater for Sustainable Development