The aim of this study is to assess the water quality of Lower Jhelum Canal (LJC) and its suitability for irrigation purposes. An effort has been made to develop a method by integrating water quality index with geographic information system (GIS) for an effective interpretation of LJC water quality. The pollution status of LJC was estimated by different physicochemical and biological parameters. Based on results of analysis, a spatial distribution map of selected water quality parameters was prepared using GIS. An inverse distance weighting (IDW), which is an interpolation technique, was applied to prepare a thematic layer of parameters at each station of Lower Jhelum canal. The results of individual parameters showed that the concentrations of contamination were within permissible limits of WHO and NEQS guidelines except for E. coli. Overall, most of the water falls in excellent quality category indicating the suitability of water for irrigation purpose. The results suggest that most of the water can be used for irrigation and various intended purposes except direct use of water for potable or drinking purposes without treatment.
Water is the most significant ingredient for supporting and evolution of life (Kuutondokwa, 2008). Humans get different sorts of benefits from freshwater, which includes water for drinking, industrialization, domestic uses, irrigation, for the production of waterfowl and fisheries, use for leisure, shipping, and waste discarding (Jackson et al., 2001). Water is a source of economic gain. Almost 70% of water is used in agricultural production, which is indirectly the cause of economic growth (Brown and Matlock, 2011). Water resources (Freshwater) are becoming limited for individuals due to overpopulation, so the accessibility of freshwater for human beings decreases (Iqbal et al., 2018). Quality of freshwater deteriorates by developmental activities that contaminate the water bodies, their effects on human health, ecosystem disturbance and issues related to its management and monitoring (Iqbal et al., 2019). Water quality deterioration is the primary threat to public health at the global level (Rahman et al., 2020). Anthropogenic actions, like improper disposal of municipal, industrialized effluents, and unsystematic use of chemicals in agriculture, are vital aspects causative in the worsening of water quality (Azizullah et al., 2011; Iqbal et al., 2020; Subedi et al., 2019; Shirani et al., 2018; Li et al., 2020). The result of these activities is eutrophication, loss of water quality, loss of biodiversity, effects on human health and social security, deposition of nutrients and other inorganic pollutants, acidification and significant economic losses (Kraemer et al., 2001). Contamination of water leads to water scarcity or it may be polluted at that level where it is expensive to treat (Gupta et al., 2012; Maged et al., 2020; Imran et al., 2020). Consequences of both water treatment and water scarcity with high cost would be the reason for the increase in water prices (Kuutondokwa, 2008). According to (Rogers et al., 2002), water is an efficient good. However, the nations which have water resources could grow their economies, while on the other hand, it will be difficult for poor or developing countries, even to avail of their essential needs.