Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is home to a population of 15 million people, whose water supply is 85% drawn from groundwater in aquifers that underlie the city. Values of Cl/Br >500 are common in groundwater beneath western Dhaka in areas <3 km from the river, and in rivers and sewers around and within the city. The study shows that groundwater beneath western Dhaka is strongly influenced by infiltration of effluent from leaking sewers and unsewered sanitation, and by river-bank infiltration from the Turag-Buriganga river system which bounds the western limit of the city. River-bank infiltration from other rivers around Dhaka is minor. Values of Cl/Br and Cl concentrations reveal that 23 % of wells sampled in Dhaka are influenced by saline connate water in amounts up to 1%. This residual natural salinity compromises the use of electrical conductivity of groundwater as a method for defining pathways of recharge by contaminated surface waters. Concentrations of As, B, Ba, Cd, Cu, F, Ni, NO3, Pb, Sb, Se and U in groundwater samples are less than WHO health-based guideline values for drinking water.