Controls on groundwater quality and dug-well asphyxiation hazard in Dakoro area of Niger

Ali Moumouni, Alan E. Fryar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the Dakoro area of Niger, hand-dug wells are commonly used for village water supply. Several cases of asphyxiation during well digging have occurred, but the source and composition of the gas (suspected to be CO2, H2S, or CH4) remain uncertain. In addition, data on water quality in the region are sparse. We sampled ten dug wells and five deeper boreholes for analyses of solute chemistry and core samples from one borehole for sediment chemistry. With respect to inorganic solutes, groundwater quality was generally good, although one dug-well sample exceeded the drinking-water standard for NO3-. Solute chemistry tended to vary between dug wells (commonly Ca-HCO3 or Ca-SO4 waters, with elevated Si and circumneutral pH) and boreholes (typically Na-HCO3 waters, with lower Si and alkaline pH). These compositions variously appear to reflect dissolution of calcite, gypsum, and silicates; pyrite oxidation; and cation exchange. Some dug wells and boreholes had high acetate concentrations, low SO4-S relative to total S, and/or a rotten-egg odor, all of which are consistent with reduction of SO42- to H2S. This reaction is likely in Marine Series shales that are relatively high in S and organic C. Consequently, monitoring for H2S and other gases during well digging is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-243
Number of pages9
JournalGroundwater for Sustainable Development
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a Fulbright Scholar award to the senior author. We are grateful to Jason Backus and Andrea Conner (KGS) and Martin Vandiviere and Chris Matocha (University of Kentucky Department of Plant and Soil Sciences) for their assistance with laboratory analyses. We thank Laurra Olmsted and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments. Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Groundwater chemistry
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Niger
  • West Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology


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