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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2011

25 - Groundwater contamination in Bangladesh

from III. 4 - Aquatic ecosystems

Summary

Introduction

Bangladesh is a country of rivers and floods but groundwater is still a vital resource because it provides bacterially safe water and helps produce food for millions of people. In rural and urban areas almost the entire population rely on groundwater for potable water. In the early 1990s some 97% of the population used it for drinking, but this has now come down to about 80% due to the detection of arsenic in shallow groundwater. Use of groundwater in irrigation is increasing every year, and now more than 74% of the irrigated area is covered with groundwater. The country's industries also rely on groundwater for most of their water needs. Though Bangladesh has abundant rain and surface waters, these sources are not available when water demand is the most. Therefore, groundwater can be considered as the country's most important natural resource for ensuring public health and food security.

This chapter provides an overview of groundwater contamination in Bangladesh. Brief descriptions of water availability, current use, and hydrogeological aspects are also included to give a wider perspective. Section 25.1 outlines the groundwater resources of the country, water demands by various sectors, and the status of current uses. Section 25.2 describes the hydrogeology of the country including its aquifer systems and groundwater dynamics. Section 25.3 sets out the contamination problem with special emphasis on natural arsenic and urban contamination from Dhaka city.

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