In this study, hydrogeochemical analyses were combined with geographic information system (GIS) tools to investigate salinization sources of groundwater in the downstream part of the Essaouira basin, and to analyze the spatiotemporal trends in groundwater quality. To assess groundwater suitability for drinking purposes, the quality of sampled water was compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Moroccan guidelines. Wilcox and US salinity laboratory (USSL) diagrams were used to evaluate groundwater suitability for irrigation. Hydrogeochemical analyses revealed that groundwater is of Na-Cl and Ca-Mg-Cl types. The analyses of the correlation between the chemical elements showed that the water–rock interaction and the reverse ion exchange are the major processes impacting groundwater degradation in the study area. The study of groundwater suitability for drinking and irrigation purposes shows that groundwater quality in the study area is permissible, but not desirable for human consumption. Additionally, groundwater is permissible for agricultural use but with high-salinity hazards. The spatial distribution of the physicochemical elements shows a general upward gradient from the north to the south and from the east to the west. The trend in groundwater quality during the last five years shows a shifting in the quality from the mixed Ca-Mg-Cl to the Na-Cl type.
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- Coastal aquifer
- Essaouira basin
- Evaporites dissolution
- Groundwater salinization
- Reverse ion exchange
- Semi-arid condition