Hydrogeological and economic investigations of managed aquifer recharge into a karst and alluvial groundwater system in Jordan

Julian Xanke1, Tanja Liesch1, Nico Goldscheider1, Amer Salman2, Emad Al-Karablieh2
1 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute of Applied Geosciences, Department of Hydrogeology
2 2Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management, School of Agriculture, The University of Jordan

9.7 in Artificial and natural groundwater recharge (co-organized by IAH-D)

26.03.2020, 16:30-16:45, Händel-Saal

The overexploitation of Jordan's water resources has been exacerbated in recent decades by a strong rise in water demand because of population growth and the expansion of agricultural activities. This has led to a drop in groundwater levels in most regional aquifers and a deterioration in water quality. In addition, natural water scarcity and variable water availability, which is a consequence of the prevailing semi-arid climate, represent a major challenge for regional water management. Therefore, managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is becoming increasingly important in the Jordanian water sector to counteract water scarcity in the dry season through underground storage of surface water. A successfully implemented and well-studied example of managed recharge into a karst aquifer is the Wala reservoir, in which floodwater is stored in winter and naturally infiltrates into the underground (Xanke et al. 2015, 2016). As a result, a wellfield 7 km downstream of the dam is supplied with an additional 6.7 million m³ per year (2002-2012). Although sustainable use is impaired by sedimentation in the reservoir and recurring contamination events in the wellfield, the MAR plant operates economically (Xanke et al. 2017). Further potential for MAR implementation was identified through an integrated approach of hydrogeological investigations and economic analyses in the Lower Jordan Valley. Based on exploratory drilling, hydraulic tests, water quality analyses and results of previous studies, a suitable storage space was identified in the alluvial fans at the eastern margin of the valley. Based on average measured infiltration rates of 9.8 × 10-5 m/s in a gravel pit and average hydraulic conductivity values of 6.8 × 10-5 m/s in the aquifer it was calculated that up to 1 Million m³/a can be infiltrated and stored underground. Depending on the intended use of the water provided by MAR for irrigation or drinking water purposes, an average incremental profit of 0.81 US$/m³ and 2.44 US$/m³ can be achieved, respectively, which would even exceed the expected construction and annual operating costs (Xanke et al. 2019). Both case studies show the promising potential of MAR in Jordan to mitigate water stress.

Xanke J, Salman A, Al-Karablieh E, Salameh E, Liesch T, Goldscheider N (2019) Hydrogeological site investigation and economic evaluation to assess the potential of managed aquifer recharge in the Jordan Valley (under review in Hydrogeology Journal, January 2019)

Xanke, J., Goeppert, N., Sawarieh, A., Liesch, T., Kinger, J., Ali, W., Hötzl, H., Hadidi, K., Goldscheider, N. (2015). Impact of managed aquifer recharge on the chemical and isotopic composition of a karst aquifer, Wala reservoir, Jordan. Hydrogeology Journal, 1-14., DOI 10.1007/s10040-015-1233-6

Xanke J, Jourde H, Liesch T, Goldscheider N (2016) Numerical long-term assessment of managed aquifer recharge from a reservoir into a karst aquifer in Jordan. In: Journal of hydrology. http://dx.doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.06.058

Xanke, J., Liesch, T., Goeppert, N., Klinger, J., Gassen, N., Goldscheider, N. (2017): Contamination risk and drinking water protection for a large-scale managed aquifer recharge site in a semi-arid karst region, Jordan. Hydrogeology Journal 25.6 (2017): 1795-1809.

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