Assessing the Impact of Zaatari Syrian Refugee Campin Central North Jordan on the Groundwater Quality
Zaatari Refugee Camp is the largest Syrian camp in Jordan with about 80,000 inhabitants. It was established in 2012 following the Syrian conflict. This refugee camp has been a constant source of concern to public authorities and local communities because it was built in the Amman-Zarqa Basin, a major groundwater aquifer system in Jordan, with a large number of wells. Thirty groundwater wells located in this refugee camp and its surrounding area were sampled and investigated for Total dissolved solids, pH, total hardness, Ca2+, Mg2+, HCO3 - , K+ , Na+ , Cl- , NO3 - , SO4 2-, Fe, Mn, Ni, Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd, Cr and E. coli. Groundwater wells were clustered (based on water quality data), statistically analyzed and compared with previous data (before establishing the camp), for better characterization of changes in water quality. The majority of water quality parameters showed values within the permissible limits based on Jordan standards for drinking water, with few exceptions. While weathering of rocks is the primary process governing water chemistry, uncontrolled and intensive pumping, dissolution of aquifer materials and leaching soluble salts following irregular rainfall events are contributing factors to water quality. Interestingly, groundwater samples collected from wells located in the camp and the nearest area showed a relatively better water quality, compared to other wells. This finding challenges the public opinion that groundwater wells in the vicinity of the camp would probably be of low quality. Also, this indicated that groundwater wells in this camp are probably better managed and controlled compared to others. It was also found that most water quality variables exhibited similar patterns, with lower values observed in the pre-2012 data. Although elevated levels of water quality parameters coincided with establishing the camp, no imminent threats of pollution to these groundwater resources have been observed
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