Nitrate pollution in groundwater in two selected areas from Cameroon and Chad in the Lake Chad basin

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The shallow aquifer in the Lake Chad basin is highly vulnerable to pollution. Analysis carried out on 316 wells and boreholes have showed a tendency towards an increase of nitrate values, exceeding 50 mg l−1. Nitrate concentrations ranged between about 1 and 300 mg l−1. Large variation in concentration was observed in wells and boreholes that are only short distances apart. High concentrations of nitrate in wells, especially in a recharge area along the sand dunes, or via infiltration from river banks, irrigation channels, and infiltration of urban wastewater into groundwater from septic tanks, pose a serious problem for drinking water supply. In Cameroon and Chad, the results of the investigation indicate a variation of nitrate concentration in groundwater between the two areas. The primary origin of this pollution is agricultural proliferation activities that are developed and stressed by socio-economic needs outside the urban area, and by urban expansion within the area served by a decrepit network of urban area sewers. Substancial differences in values of nitrate concentrations were observed in groundwater from adjacent wells and boreholes, indicating local rather than regional contamination.

Keywords: Agricultural activities, Cameroon, Chad, Groundwater, Lake Chad basin, Nitrate, Septic tanks

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