Original Research - Special Collection: Changing Global Context

Vadose zone infiltration and its implication for groundwater contamination risk assessment in Siloam village, Limpopo province, South Africa

Ivo Arrey, John O. Odiyo, Rachel Makungo, Milton Kataka
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 11, No 2 | a682 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v11i2.682 | © 2019 Ivo Arrey, John O. Odiyo, Rachel Makungo, Milton Kataka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2018 | Published: 02 July 2019

About the author(s)

Ivo Arrey, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
John O. Odiyo, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Rachel Makungo, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Milton Kataka, Department of Mining and Environmental Geology, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa


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Abstract

Risk assessment methods and approaches are useful for environmental planning and decision-making when dealing with risk identification and reduction in a changing global context. This is particularly true for arid and semi-arid regions, such as Siloam village, Limpopo province, South Africa, where it is a common practice to apply fertilisers to the soil during planting season for increasing crop yield. Estimates of vadose zone soil moisture fluxes were used to determine the likelihood of applied agricultural fertilisers to reach the groundwater table. This study combines field observations in the study area and a one-dimensional numerical model to explore the moisture fluxes and their implications for contaminant transport in the vadose zone. Model simulations revealed a lag time of 117 days at topsoil and 913 days beyond the root zone for deep percolation of soluble non-reactive inorganic and organic additives to reach the groundwater table. Preliminary results of this study suggest that the vadose zone is permeable and the groundwater is vulnerable to contamination within the evaluated time scale. Given that disaster risks are inevitable, reasonable methods for control and mitigation of agricultural impacts at this site are highly recommended.

Keywords

Groundwater Vulnerability; Infiltration; Modelling; Siloam Village; Vadose Zone

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