J. Phys. IV France
Volume 107, May 2003
Page(s) 173 - 176

J. Phys. IV France
107 (2003) 173
DOI: 10.1051/jp4:20030270

Geogenic arsenic in groundwaters from Terai Alluvial Plain of Nepal

P. Bhattacharya1, N. Tandukar2, A. Nekul2, A.A. Valero2, A.B. Mukherjee3 and G. Jacks1

1  Department of Land and Water Resources Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology, Brinellvägen 28, 10044 Stockholm, Sweden
2  Department of Water Supply & Sewerage (DWSS), Panipokhari, Kathmandu, Nepal
3  Department of Limnology and Environmental Protection, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 27, 00014 Helsinki, Finland

The origin and mobility of arsenic (As) in the groundwater environment has received serious attention in recent years. Recent studies have reported naturally occurring As in groundwaters of the Terai Alluvial Plains (TAP) ìn southern Nepal, where groundwater exploitation has increased since the 1960s. The source of As in TAP is geogenic and leached primarily due to weathering of As bearing rocks and sediments in the Himalayas. In our present study, we have investigated the groundwater chemistry in the central part of the TAP in Nawalparasi district. TAP groundwaters are near-neutral to alkaline, with predominantly reducing character and high HCO 3- low SO 2-4 and NO 3- concentrations. Elevated HCO 3 levels possibly result due to the oxidation of organic matter, low SO 42- levels reflect sulfate reduction. Elevated NH 4+ concentrations in these groundwaters suggest dissimilatory nitrate reduction in the aquifers. Total arsenic (As $_{\rm tot}$) levels in groundwater varied from 1.7 $\mu$g/L to as high as 404 $\mu$g/L with dominance of As (III) species and elevated levels of dissolved Fe and Mn. Arsenic is mobilized in groundwaters as a result of desorption of As-oxyanions adsorbed onto Fe-and Mnoxides as well as reductive dissolution of these surface reactive phases from the sediments along with release ouf as in anoxie groundwaters.

© EDP Sciences 2003