Monitoring and modeling infiltration-recharge dynamics of managed aquifer recharge with desalinated seawater

Yonatan Ganot, Ran Holtzman, Noam Weisbrod, Ido Nitzan, Yoram Katz, Daniel Kurtzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We study the relation between surface infiltration and groundwater recharge during managed aquifer recharge (MAR) with desalinated seawater in an infiltration pond, at the Menashe site that overlies the northern part of the Israeli Coastal Aquifer. We monitor infiltration dynamics at multiple scales (up to the scale of the entire pond) by measuring the ponding depth, sediment water content and groundwater levels, using pressure sensors, single-ring infiltrometers, soil sensors, and observation wells. During a month (January 2015) of continuous intensive MAR (2.45 × 106m3 discharged to a 10.7ha area), groundwater level has risen by 17m attaining full connection with the pond, while average infiltration rates declined by almost 2 orders of magnitude (from ∼ 11 to ∼ 0.4md-1). This reduction can be explained solely by the lithology of the unsaturated zone that includes relatively low-permeability sediments. Clogging processes at the pond-surface - abundant in many MAR operations - are negated by the high-quality desalinated seawater (turbidity ∼ 0.2NTU, total dissolved solids ∼ 120mgL-1) or negligible compared to the low-permeability layers. Recharge during infiltration was estimated reasonably well by simple analytical models, whereas a numerical model was used for estimating groundwater recharge after the end of infiltration. It was found that a calibrated numerical model with a one-dimensional representative sediment profile is able to capture MAR dynamics, including temporal reduction of infiltration rates, drainage and groundwater recharge. Measured infiltration rates of an independent MAR event (January 2016) fitted well to those calculated by the calibrated numerical model, showing the model validity. The successful quantification methodologies of the temporal groundwater recharge are useful for MAR practitioners and can serve as an input for groundwater flow models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4479-4493
Number of pages15
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 8 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 619120 (Demonstrating Managed Aquifer Recharge as a Solution to Water Scarcity and Drought – MARSOL). We thank Amos Russak and Raz Amir for their technical assistance and Eline Futerman-Hartog for conducting the dry infiltration experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) 2017.


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