The chemical characteristics of surface, groundwater and mine water of the upper catchment of the Damodar River basin were studied to evaluate the major ion chemistry, geochemical processes controlling water composition and suitability of water for domestic, industrial and irrigation uses. Water samples from ponds, lakes, rivers, reservoirs and groundwater were collected and analysed for pH, EC, TDS, F, Cl, HCO3, SO4, NO3, Ca, Mg, Na and K. In general, Ca, Na, Mg, HCO3 and Cl dominate, except in samples from mining areas which have higher concentration of SO4. Water chemistry of the area reflects continental weathering, aided by mining and other anthropogenic impacts. Limiting groundwater use for domestic purposes are contents of TDS, F, Cl, SO4, NO3 and TH that exceed the desirable limits in water collected from mining and urban areas. The calculated values of SAR, RSC and %Na indicate good to permissible use of water for irrigation. High salinity, %Na, Mg-hazard and RSC values at some sites limit use for agricultural purposes.