Regional groundwater flow system characterization of volcanic aquifers in upper Awash using multiple approaches, central Ethiopia

Authors: Kidist Hailu, Behailu Birhanu, Tilahun Azagegn, Seifu Kebede

Characterization of the groundwater flow systems is important for sustainable water resource management decision-making. We have used vertical profiles of electrical conductivity (EC) and water temperature taken at 2 m intervals during drilling of 109 boreholes, and samples for stable isotope analysis (δ18O, δ2H) taken from 47 boreholes to characterize groundwater recharge, flow and discharge. 222Rn measurements and piezometric evidence were used to complement results from the EC and stable isotopes. The converging evidence shows that groundwater in the study area is characterized by a mix of two different groundwater flow systems: i) the deep groundwater systems are connected to the regional groundwater flow originating from the highlands, outside the surface water basin, ii) the shallow groundwater systems get recharge from local rains. The local recharge zones are located in highly urbanized and industrialized zones posing risk to recharge reduction and pollution. Therefore, attention should be given to protect groundwater resources from contamination and increase groundwater resilience to climate change.

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