Function and relevance of aquifer recharge techniques to enable sustainable water resources management in developing and newly-industrialized countries

The use of bank filtration for drinking water treatment in Europe dates back to the days of beginning industrialization in the 19th century. With regard to improved source water quality in Europe, the millennium development goals and global climate change, aquifer recharge (AR) and bank filtration (BF) need to be reassessed in terms of sustainability and their role within an integrated water resource management. Based on the IC-NASRI study comprising 194 drinking water facilities worldwide integrating aquifer recharge techniques in their treatment system, an average AR/BF site would be located in Central Europe alongside a river and is characterized by: a sandy gravel aquifer with a hydraulic conductivity of 2x10-3 m/s, a maximum aquifer thickness of 30 m, 175 m travel distance from bank to well, a travel time of 70 days and by vertical well operation with a daily capacity of 55.000 m³. A literature survey conducted within the TECHNEAU project demonstrated that for substances highly relevant to newly-industrialized or developing countries (e.g. pathogens) the removal efficiency is good. Hydro-chemical analyses from three study sites in Delhi support these results. However, it was also shown that poor surface water quality, saline groundwater or subsurface conditions leading to mobilization of trace metals like iron, manganese or arsenic may limit the applicability of AR / BF without further post-treatment. Climate change might affect the performance of AR / BF worldwide, impairing source water quality and influencing removal efficiency. However, other factors like changes in demography or land-use can impact the systems by far more severely.

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