Nine ground-water samples from the principal shallow and deep North Sahara aquifers of Algeria and Tunisia were examined to determine the relation of their chemical composition to corrosion and mineral encrustation thought to be contributing to observed decline in well capacities within a UNESCO/UNDP Special Fund Project area. Although the shallow and deep waters differ significantly in certain quality factors, all are sulfochloride types with corrosion potentials ranging from moderate to extreme. None appear to be sufficiently supersaturated with troublesome mineral species to cause rapid or severe encrustation of filter pipes or other well parts. However, calcium carbonate encrustation of deep-well cooling towers and related irrigation pipes can be expected because of loss of carbon dioxide and water during evaporative cooling.
Corrosion products, particularly iron sulfide, can be expected to deposit in wells producing waters from the deep aquifers. This could reduce filterpipe openings and increase casing roughness sufficiently to cause significant reduction in well capacity. It seems likely, however, that normal pressure reduction due to exploitation of the artesian systems is a more important control of well performance. If troublesome corrosion and related encrustation are confirmed by downhole inspection, use of corrosion-resisting materials, such as fiber-glass casing and saw-slotted filter pipe (shallow wells only), or stainless-steel screen, will minimize the effects of the waters represented by these samples. A combination of corrosion-resisting stainless steel filter pipe electrically insulated from the casing with a nonconductive spacer and cathodic protection will minimize external corrosion of steel casing, if this is found to be a problem. However, such installations are difficult to make in very deep wells and difficult to control in remote areas. Both the shallow waters and the deep waters examined in this study will tend to cause soil salinization because their salt contents are relatively high, and both have sodium absorption ratios which are unfavorable to sodium-sensitive soils and vegetation. Proper drainage and soil treatment are the only means of overcoming these problems during irrigation.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Significance of ground-water chemistry in performance of North Sahara Tube wells in Algeria and Tunisia