Occurrence of nitrate in Tanzanian groundwater aquifers: A review
Muzuka, Alfred N. N.
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More than 25 % of Tanzanian depends on groundwater as the main source of water for drinking, irrigation and industrial activities. The current trend of land use may lead to groundwater contamination and thus increasing risks associated with the usage of contaminated water. Nitrate is one of the contaminants resulting largely from anthropogenic activities that may find its way to the aquifers and thus threatening the quality of groundwater. Elevated levels of nitrate in groundwater may lead to human health and environmental problems. The current trend of land use in Tanzania associated with high population growth, poor sanitation facilities and fertilizer usage may lead to nitrate contamination of groundwater. This paper therefore aimed at providing an overview of to what extent human activities have altered the concentration of nitrate in groundwater aquifers in Tanzania. The concentration of nitrate in Tanzanian groundwater is variable with highest values observable in Dar es Salaam (up to 477.6 mg/l), Dodoma (up to 441.1 mg/l), Tanga (above 100 mg/l) and Manyara (180 mg/l). Such high values can be attributed to various human activities including onsite sanitation in urban centres and agricultural activities in rural areas. Furthermore, there are some signs of increasing concentration of nitrate in groundwater with time in some areas in response to increased human activities. However, reports on levels and trends of nitrate in groundwater in many regions of the country are lacking. For Tanzania to appropriately address the issue of groundwater contamination, a deliberate move to determine nitrate concentration in groundwater is required, as well as protection of recharge basins and improvement of onsite sanitation systems.