Application of Dempster-Shafer theory, spatial analysis and remote sensing for groundwater potentiality and nitrate pollution analysis in the semi-arid region of Khuzestan, Iran

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Oct 15;568:1110-1123. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.176. Epub 2016 Jun 26.


Effective management and sustainable development of groundwater resources of arid and semi-arid environments require monitoring of groundwater quality and quantity. The aim of this paper is to develop a reasonable methodological framework for producing the suitability map for drinking water through the geographic information system, remote sensing and field surveys of the Andimeshk-Dezful, Khozestan province, Iran as a semi-arid region. This study investigated the delineation of groundwater potential zone based on Dempster-Shafer (DS) theory of evidence and evaluate its applicability for groundwater potentiality mapping. The study also analyzed the spatial distribution of groundwater nitrate concentration; and produced the suitability map for drinking water. The study has been carried out with the following steps: i) creation of maps of groundwater conditioning factors; ii) assessment of groundwater occurrence characteristics; iii) creation of groundwater potentiality map (GPM) and model validation; iv) collection and chemical analysis of water samples; v) assessment of groundwater nitrate pollution; and vi) creation of groundwater potentiality and quality map. The performance of the DS was also evaluated using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve method and pumping test data to ensure its generalization ability, which eventually, the GPM showed 87.76% accuracy. The detailed analysis of groundwater potentiality and quality revealed that the 'non acceptable' areas covers an area of about 1479km(2) (60%). The study will provide significant information for groundwater management and exploitation in areas where groundwater is a major source of water and its exploration is critical to support drinking water need.

Keywords: Contamination; Environmental policies; GIS; Groundwater management; Iran; Remote sensing.