Groundwater contamination risk assessment using a modified DRATICL model and pollution loading: A case study in the Guanzhong Basin of China

Chemosphere. 2022 Mar;291(Pt 1):132695. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.132695. Epub 2021 Oct 26.


Groundwater contamination risk assessment is not only the basis for groundwater management, but also an effective tool for groundwater pollution control and prevention. However, only groundwater vulnerability assessment is not enough to prove the risk of groundwater contamination. Therefore, this study describes an evaluation method combining aquifer intrinsic vulnerability and pollution source loading to evaluate groundwater contamination risk in Guanzhong Basin on a macro scale. A modified DRATICL model was introduced to evaluate the intrinsic vulnerability, and the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and the entropy weight method were combined to determine the weight of each evaluation factor. Pollution loading was evaluated by quantifying the characteristics of potential pollution sources, mainly including pollutant toxicity, pollutant release possibility and potential pollutant release amount. Finally, total iron, Cl-, SO42-, F-, COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), NO3-, NO2- and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) are used to calculate the water quality index and verify the model results. The results showed that industries were the most harmful potential pollution sources in the study area, followed by landfills. Very high vulnerability areas were mainly situated around Huazhou District, Huayin and Dali County, as well as the low terraces around Zhouzhi County and Hu County, which are mainly caused by shallow groundwater depth and high net recharge. The final groundwater contamination risk results showed the high groundwater contamination risks are detected around Xi'an City, Xianyang City, Hancheng City and Dali County. Both high vulnerability and high pollution loading were present at the Jingwei District in the north of Xi'an City, where a priority attention should be given.

Keywords: Groundwater contamination; Groundwater quality; Groundwater vulnerability; Intrinsic vulnerability; Potential pollution sources.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Cities
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Groundwater*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis
  • Water Quality


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical