Groundwater-Level Trends and Implications for Sustainable Water Use in the Kabul Basin, Afghanistan

The Kabul Basin, which includes the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, with a population of approximately 4 million, has several Afghan, United States, and interna- tional military installations that depend on groundwater resources for a potable water supply. This study examined groundwater levels in the Kabul Basin from 2004 to 2012. Groundwater levels have increased slightly in rural areas of the Kabul Basin as a result of normal precipitation after the drought of the early 2000s. However, groundwater levels have decreased in the city of Kabul due to increasing water use in an area with limited recharge. The rate of ground- water-level decrease in the city is greater for the 2008–2012 period (1.5 meters per year (m/yr) on average) than for the 2004–2008 period (0–0.7 m/yr on average). The analysis, which is corroborated by groundwater-flow modeling and a non-governmental organization decision- support model, identified groundwater-level decreases and associated implications for groundwater sustainability in the city of Kabul. Military installations in the city of Kabul (the Central Kabul subbasin) are likely to face water management challenges resulting from long-term ground- water sustainability concerns, such as the potential drying of shallow water-supply wells. Installations in the northern part of the Kabul Basin may have fewer issues with long- term water sustainability. Groundwater-level monitoring and groundwater-flow simulation can be valuable tools for assessing groundwater management options to improve the sustainability of water resources in the Kabul Basin.

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