In 2004, the U.S. Geological Survey began working with engineers at the Afghanistan Geological Survey to provide hydrologic training and equipment and to apply these tools to build an inventory of water wells in the Kabul Basin of Afghanistan. An inventory of 148 wells now includes information on well location, depth, and access. Water-level and water-quality measurements have been made at most of these wells. A water-level elevation map has been constructed, and general directions of ground-water flow have been defined.
Ground-water flow in the Kabul Basin is primarily through saturated alluvium and other basin-fill sediments. The water-table surface generally mirrors topography, and ground water generally flows in the directions of surface-water discharge. The quality of ground water in the Kabul Basin varies widely. In some areas, ground-water quality is excellent, with low concentrations of dissolved solids and no problematic constituents. In other areas, however, high concentrations of dissolved solids and the presence of some constituents at concentrations deemed harmful to humans and crops render untreated ground water marginal or unsuitable for public supply and/or agricultural use. Of particular concern are elevated concentrations of nitrate, boron, and dissolved solids, and an indication of fecal pollution in some parts of the basin.
As Afghanistan emerges from years of conflict, as institutional capacities rejuvenate and grow, and as the need for wise water-management decisions continues, adequate data and a fuller understanding of the ground-water resource in the Kabul Basin will be imperative. The work described in this report represents only a modest beginning in what will be a long-term data-collection and interpretive effort.