Sustainability of ground water quality considering land use changes and public health risks

N. K.C. Twarakavi
J. J. Kaluarachchi, Utah State University


One of the major environmental issues of concern to policy-makers is the increased vulnerability of ground water quality (GWQ). Another issue of equal interest is the sustainability of natural resources for future generations. To understand the sustainability of the natural resources such as water in general, one needs to understand the impact of future land use changes on the natural resources. This work proposes a methodology to address sustainability of GWQ considering land use changes, aquifer vulnerability to multiple contaminants, and public health risks. The methodology was demonstrated for the Sumas-Blaine aquifer in Washington State. The land transformation model predicted that nearly 60 percent of the land use practices would change in the Sumas-Blaine Aquifer by the year 2015. The accuracy of the LTM model predictions increased to greater levels as the spatial resolution was decreased. Aquifer vulnerability analysis was performed for major contaminants using the binary logistic regression (LR) method. The LR model, along with the predicted future land use, was used to estimate the future GWQ using two indices—carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic ground water qualities. Sustainability of GWQ was then analyzed using the concept of ‘strong’ sustainability. The sustainability map of GWQ showed improvements in many areas where urbanization is expected to occur. The positive impact of urbanization on GWQ is an indication of the extensive damage caused by existing agricultural activities in the study area.