Pollutants Tracking from Surface to Groundwater, the Case of Upper Faria Catchment

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Hafez Qadri Shaheen / Supervisor
Dr. Muath Jamil Abusaada / Co-Supervisor
Dr. Marwan Ghanem / External Examiner
Dr. Sameer Shadeed / Internal Examiner
Dr. Hafez Qadri Shaheen / Supervisor
Dr. Muath Jamil Abusaada / Co-Supervisor
Malak Abdalhadi Kamel Issa
Groundwater is considered the main source of water in Palestine. It has a major influence in both environmental and socio-economic conditions of the Palestinians. The risk of groundwater contamination as a result of human induced pollutants, including wastewater, dumping sites and agricultural practices needs be assessed all the time. Pumping from agricultural and domestic wells are means of transport of pollutants into groundwater; mainly wastewater and agricultural wastes such as pesticides and fertilizers. The upper part of the unconfined aquifer of Al-Faria catchment, located in the northeastern area of the West Bank, is selected in this thesis to study the fate and transport of pollutants from the surface to groundwater. The aquifer of Al-Faria is part of the Eastern Mountain Aquifer of the West Bank and plays a major source for supplying water, through groundwater wells and springs, to both domestic and agricultural demands within the area. The research studied the transport of pollutants from surface through the unsaturated zones to the groundwater which may cause contamination. A conceptual model was developed and formulated into a numerical steady state flow model (MODFLOW) which simulates the flow dynamics. The software platform, called GMS, was used to connect the numerical flow simulation (MODFLOW) with MODPATH to track pollutants for Al-Faria aquifer. The sources of groundwater contamination and the path-lines of transport of these pollutants were established; the potential contaminated wells and springs were also made apparent. The travel time needed to transport these pollutants into the wells and springs were calculated (forward tracking). The main pollutants as well as the risk of contamination were identified. Consequently, protection zones for selected wells were delineated (Backward tracking). The results confirm that the wastewater and agricultural wastes are the main sources of pollution for several groundwater wells and springs in the study area. Delineation of protection zones for each water resource is a powerful tool and would be the first step of effective management plan to minimize the risk of groundwater contamination. Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) shall consider the severity of the problem and take crucial decisions and plan to control and prevent the pollution of the groundwater resources. It is recommended to apply and model the fate and transport of the pollutants into the groundwater as a control tool for monitoring and analyzing the current and future situations for different scenarios of groundwater reservation and pollution control in Palestine.
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