Around 40% water in the district has been found unfit for irrigation while 45% is marginally affected due to high electric conductivity (EC) and the presence of residual sodium carbonate (RSC). Excessive EC and RSC content damage agricultural land and prevent efficient water absorption by plant.
As per reports of the district agriculture department and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), content of arsenic and fluoride also exceed the limits prescribed by the World Health Organisation, making water unsuitable for drinking as well.
The excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers is said to be the reason behind rising arsenic level in water, which lead to higher incidence of cancer in the area, being represented in parliament by Harsimrat Kaur Badal. As per the Punjab Agriculture University, RSC level above 2.5 mg per litre will have a marginal affect on the quality of irrigation water, but water is unfit when the limit crosses 5-mg per litre mark.
Similarly, the permissible limit for arsenic in ground water is 0.01 parts per billion (ppb) and is 0.5 to 1.5 mg per litre for fluoride. According to agricultural department report, RSC content is 27 mg per litre in Gurnekalan village, 19 in Budhlada and Allike, 17 in Chehlawala and Manderna, 16 in Beniwal, Bhenibaga and Makkha, 15 in Jhunir, Dalelwala, Raipur, Jhanda Khurd, Uddat Bhagat Ram and Burj Dhilwan.
The permissible limit for EC is 4,000 milli-mho per litre. The electric conductivity in water at Beerewala village is 4,900, Mansa (7,100), Sardulgarh (4,750) and Manderna (4,580).
Water samples taken by CGWB from Bhame Kalan village bus stand show arsenic content at 0.27 ppb, Dhaipi (0.287), Meerpur Dhani (0.163), Nangal Dhani (0.42), Akalia (0.34), Kotda Kalan (0.12), Jhunir (0.29), Nandgarh (0.102) and Bhikhi (0.89). The fluoride content was 20.4 mg per litre at Meerpur Dhani, 20.6 at Nangal Dhani, Kotda Kalan (11.9), Dhaipi (5.88), Heero Kalan (3.72), Nandgarh (8.7) and Bhamme Kalan (5.85).