Conference Abstracts

All Abstracts were presented at the Groundwater Conferences

Displaying 1 - 50 of 795 results
Title Presenter Name Presenter Surname Area Conference year Keywords

Abstract

The current understanding of groundwater within the larger Bushveld Complex (BC) is evaluated to gauge the potential for deep groundwater, specifically emphasising the lesser investigated eastern limb. From the review of publicly available literature and data, geohydrological databases and statistical analyses are presented as a collation of the current understanding of groundwater in the eastern limb of the BC. Unfortunately, information on deep groundwater (> 300 m) is scarce due to the cost associated with deep drilling, mining exploration holes often neglecting hydrogeological data collection, or lack of public access to this information. Nevertheless, the conceptual model developed from the available information highlights deep groundwater’s variable and structurally controlled nature and the uncertainty associated with groundwater characterisation of the deeper groundwater systems. This uncertainty supports the need for research-based scientific drilling of the deeper fractured lithologies in the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex. The Bushveld Complex Drilling Project (BVDP) established an opportunity to perform such research-based drilling and was funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). While the main focus of the BVDP is to produce a continuous vertical stratigraphic sequence of the BC, there is a sub-component to collect geohydrological information. The planned borehole, 2 500 m deep, will provide an opportunity to collect information from the deeper systems within the Bushveld Complex and the underlying Transvaal Supergroup, which will inform on the connection between shallow and deeper groundwater.

Abstract

This research aims to evaluate the carbon storage function of a Mediterranean peatland in changing climate conditions. The scientific strategy relies on a seasonal geochemical survey sourcing the carbon origin by considering the hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere. This unprecedented research on a Mediterranean peatland reveals the seasonality of dissolved carbon inputs from primary production, organic matter oxidation, and time-changing recharge components within the catchment (rainwater, river water, shallow groundwater, deep groundwater). Based on the mixing proportions of all recharge water components, the study applies a reverse end-member mixing analysis to define the theoretical peat water d13CDIC value and compare it to the measured ones. The model explains 65 % of the data, demonstrating the water flow influence on peatland carbon content. In 35% of the cases, peatland processes such as primary production and organic matter oxidation drive the peat water’s carbon content. Peat organic and inorganic properties, d13CTOC, and d13CCO2 data demonstrate the role of groundwater as a CO2 source and the dominance of in situ primary production that argues in favour of carbon storage within such Mediterranean peatland. This research proves the relevance of geochemistry and isotope hydrology tools to disentangle and rank peatland water and carbon processes within peatland hydro-ecosystems. Overall, it reveals the necessity to take into account the interactions between water and carbon cycle processes, with particular consideration for groundwater as a CO2 source at the peatland-atmosphere interface, to build better models for the future evolution of the global climate.

Abstract

The Lower Berg River Aquifer System, situated in the Western Cape province of South Africa, is important to the towns that overlay it, as they rely on the aquifer for water supply, which supplements industrial development and residential growth. This aquifer system is important because surface water resources in the area are finite and fully allocated. Despite studies on the Lower Berg River Aquifer System since 1976, knowledge of the geological layers, recharge and discharge areas, and groundwater flow paths remain limited. This study aimed to provide greater insight and understanding of the aquifer to assist in better management. Investigations included a Time Domain Electromagnetic airborne geophysical survey, the assessment of groundwater levels, infiltration tests, hydrochemical analyses, and stable and radioactive isotope analyses. These methods allowed for the identification of the aquifer’s layers and extent, determination of water quality in different parts of the aquifer, delineation of flow paths through the saturated and unsaturated zones, identification of inter-aquifer flow, as well as different modes of recharge.

Abstract

Sand mining in southern Africa is on the rise, fuelled largely by rapid urbanisation. This creates a range of societal and biophysical challenges and supports livelihoods in regions with high unemployment. Relevant scientific studies are scarce. This study explores the impacts of sand mining from ephemeral rivers on Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique communities through field visits, interviews, modelling, remote sensing and legislative analysis. What was expected to be a hydrogeology project focussing on water resources identified a broader range of issues that should be considered. Initial results uncovered a range of negative biophysical impacts, including alteration of hydrological regimes, which in turn affect groundwater recharge and exacerbate drought and flood risks, destruction of riparian vegetation, increased erosion, damage to infrastructure (including bridges and roads), reduced water quality, and the spread of invasive plant species. Equally important are the range of social impacts, such as drowning people and livestock, loss of agricultural land, increased traffic, dust, noise and crime. Complex governance arrangements influence these social and environmental challenges. The findings highlight the need to adopt an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach that considers linkages between human and natural systems. This approach is essential for finding sustainable solutions for the provision of construction materials that limit detrimental impacts on water resources, ecosystems and livelihoods. 

Abstract

Worldwide, more than 400 transboundary aquifers (TBAs) have been identified. Only a small number of these aquifers have been assessed in detail. Consequently, little is known about (potential) transboundary impacts. Changes in transboundary groundwater fluxes can indicate potential transboundary impacts as groundwater abstractions can affect such fluxes, indicating potential risks of transboundary contamination. To our knowledge, a quantitative assessment of transboundary aquifer fluxes (TBAFs) is not available because national groundwater models (if existing) often lack a good interaction with surrounding countries. In recent years, a high-resolution global groundwater model (GGM) has been developed as part of the PCR-GLOBWB family of models, having a 5 arcmin (~10*10km2 ) resolution. PCR-GLOBWB has previously been used to quantify environmental flows, assess global droughts, and assess climate impacts on global water resources. Recently the 5 arcmin GGM has been updated to 30 arcsec (~1*1km2 ) using high performance computing (referred to as GLOBGM). We present an application of GLOBGM to assess TBAFs of major TBAs. Results show that even though hydrogeological data are often scarce, a rough order of magnitude of the TBAFs can be assessed. TBA fluxes are compared with groundwater recharge. Although GLOBGM cannot replace assessments of TBAs based on local hydrogeological information and information on groundwater use, the analysis provides valuable information. GLOBGM can be used to quantify the relevance of TBAFs in relation to other fluxes such as from rivers or (future) abstractions. TBAF analyses can also assist in prioritising scarce funds and capacity between TBAs

Abstract

In the context of climate change, this work aims to model the piezometric levels of the foothill aquifer located in the middle-high Brenta river plain (Veneto, Italy) to support managing a groundwater system that provides drinking water for most of the Veneto Region. Using a Data-Driven approach, predictive Multiple Linear Regression Models were developed for the piezometric level at different wells, and scenarios of groundwater level evolution were achieved under dry periods. Results highlighted the high sensitivity of the aquifer to climate extremes, as well as the need to plan actions for mitigating the effects on such a strategic water supply system. Groundwater hosted in the foothill aquifer represents an important resource. However, these systems are highly sensitive to the variation of Meteo-climatic regimes. At the same time, the exploitations can lead to excessive groundwater drawdown and consequent threats of water scarcity. The Data-Driven approach adopted using long time series of meteorological, hydrometric and piezometric data can represent a valid example in these terms. The groundwater level evolution has been well-reproduced by these models. The equations describing models show the close dependence of groundwater from the Brenta River and the high sensitivity of the aquifer to meteo-climate regimes. Given this sensitivity, the forecast of groundwater level evolution under a dry period, similar to 2022, was performed. Results point out a progressive drawdown of groundwater level. These predictive models can be useful for local authorities to maintain these levels over specific critical values.

Abstract

The aquifers in the Chao Phraya River basin region were abundant in groundwater. Lately, the groundwater level has been declining due to agricultural activities. While in the wet season, these areas frequently suffered from flooding due to lower elevation than their surroundings. The Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) methods were applied to ease problems by constructing artificial recharge wells which can detain stormwater runoff and let it gradually infiltrate into the aquifer directly. For decades, the Department of Groundwater Resources started the MAR project to alleviate groundwater depletion and flooding over specific areas. However, most of the projects in the past lacked follow-up results and evaluation. Thus, later projects attempted to study recharge processes to evaluate the volume of recharged water through structures and calculate the infiltration rate through filter layers within the structures.

Recently, the field experiments of artificial groundwater recharge were conducted as 8-hour and 20-day experiments with shallow recharge wells in the Chao Phraya River basin regions. These two types of experiments provided similar results. The average recharge rates of 8-hour and 20-day experiments are 2.22 m3/hr and 2.57 m3/hr, respectively. Recharge rates of each well were independently distinct depending on sedimentation characteristics, aquifer thickness, and volume of dry voids. During the test, the recharge well continuously encountered the problem of sediment clogging due to using untreated water from neighbouring streams and ponds. This clogging issue needed to be treated regularly to maintain the efficiency of the recharge well.

Abstract

One-third of the world faces water insecurity, and freshwater resources in coastal regions are under enormous stress due to population growth, pollution, climate change and political conflicts. Meanwhile, several aquifers in coastal regions extending offshore remain unexplored. Interdisciplinary researchers from 33 countries joined their effort to understand better if and how offshore freshened groundwater (OFG) can be used as a source of potable water. This scientific network intends to 1) estimate where OFG is present and in which volumes, 2) delineate the most appropriate approaches to characterise it, and 3) investigate the legal implications of sustainable exploitation of the offshore extension of transboundary aquifers. Besides identifying the environmental impact of OFG pumping, the network will review existing policies for onshore aquifers to outline recommendations for policies, action plans, protocols and legislation for OFG exploitation at the local to international levels. Experienced and early-career scientists and stakeholders from diverse disciplines carry out these activities. The Action leads activities to foster cross-disciplinary and intersectoral collaboration and provides high-quality training and funded scientific exchange missions to develop a pool of experts to address future scientific, societal, and legal challenges related to OFG. This interaction will foster new ideas and concepts that will lead to OFG characterisation and utilisation breakthroughs, translate into future market applications, and deliver recommendations to support effective water resource management. The first exchange mission explored the Gela platform carbonate reservoir (Sicily), built a preliminary 3D geometrical model, and identified the location of freshened groundwater

Abstract

Integrated geophysical methods can be useful tools in mapping the subsurface characteristics likely to control groundwater occurrence and hence are useful in identifying potential drill targets in different aquifer formations in Southern Africa. This study applied hydrogeophysical methods (natural, electrical, and electromagnetic) to identify potential groundwater-bearing targets within the Kalahari sand aquifers in Namibia and the crystalline basement aquifer system in Namibia and South Africa. The results suggest that hydrogeophysical assessments in Kalahari sandstone aquifers could clearly show that the system exhibits a well-defined layered aquifer formation likely recharged from surface water. On the other hand, crystalline basement formations could be combined with geological observations and used to identify groundwater controls like lineaments and depths to fractured zones. The magnetic method, horizontal and vertical frequency domain electromagnetic geophysical methods presented herein managed to delineate the main dykes and lineament features associated with groundwater occurrence in typical crystalline basement aquifers, while the natural magneto telluric investigations managed to delineate the deep and shallow aquifer formation in Kalahari sandstone aquifer formation. The study also advocates for integrating geophysical methods with local and regional geology for groundwater evaluation to provide a more detailed approach to resource assessment in some of the vulnerable aquifer systems in Southern Africa. Results from this study are useful for technical groundwater management and promoting the utilization of groundwater as a climate-resilient strategy in Southern Africa.

Abstract

The Limpopo River Basin (LRB) is highly vulnerable to recurrent floods and droughts, significantly threatening its water and food security. Sustainable groundwater management is necessary to improve resilience. Scientists and stakeholders must collaborate to evaluate management scenarios that can identify sustainable practices. A transboundary basin-scale management instrument was developed using a multisector collaborative modelling approach to identify the role of groundwater in building resilience. The approach used an integrated hydro(geo)logical model, co-created through stakeholder workshops. The model assessed management scenarios identified during a series of local, national and transboundary stakeholders workshops, focusing on improving groundwater storage during wet periods for use during dry periods in a context of population growth and increasing groundwater reliance across the basin. Management scenarios: (1) increasing groundwater abstraction; (2) deforestation; (3) afforestation; and (4) managed aquifer recharge (MAR) using injection wells capturing excess water from major dams, rainwater harvesting through local ponds/ wells, and small water reservoirs. Analysis of scenario outputs suggested that local groundwater storage techniques, especially water harvesting and storage through small-scale water well recharge, were the most effective strategy in reducing the risk and impact of floods and drought at the basin scale. Upscaling this strategy can significantly increase groundwater levels across the basin, supporting increasing groundwater reliance. The study showed that the multisector collaborative modelling approach effectively co-creates management strategies and identifies appropriate and inclusive strategies to improve resilience in data-limiting conditions. The proposed modelling outcomes are useful in making informed decisions regarding water management and transboundary cooperation in the LRB.

Abstract

Groundwater is a strategic long-term water resource used by an estimated 70% of the populations in sub-Saharan Africa for drinking, irrigation and a wide range of economic activities. Understanding groundwater recharge processes is key for effectively using and managing water resources. Very few studies have used direct groundwater observations to assess the impact of different farming systems on groundwater recharge processes. This study focused on assessing basement aquifer recharge in 4 instrumented catchments in Malawi (Chitedze), Zambia (Liempe and Kabeleka) and Zimbabwe (Domboshawa) within the SADC region between 2019-2022. Employing a range of methods, including direct field observations (groundwater hydrographs, precipitation data, stable isotopes, chloride mass balance and residence time tracer data), we quantify the amount of groundwater recharge as well as the timing and nature of recharge processes under both conservation and conventional tillage systems in these four study sites. Groundwater recharge was measured in most years across the study sites. The study reveals the strong climate controls on seasonal groundwater recharge volumes, the influence of low permeability layers in the unsaturated zone, and the likely magnitude of impact from different farming practices. Groundwater residence times are high (i.e. low fractions of modern recharge, interquartile range 1-5%, n=46), even in shallow piezometers, suggesting these unpumped systems may be highly stratified. The results provide an evidence-based suite of data that reveals much about key controls on groundwater recharge in basement aquifers in sub-humid drylands and will inform the development and management of such groundwater systems.

Abstract

Groundwater systems are complex and subject to climate change, abstraction, and land use stresses, making quantifying their impacts on aquifers difficult. Groundwater models aim to balance abstraction and aquifer sustainability by simulating the responses of an aquifer to hydrological stresses through groundwater levels. However, these models require extensive spatial data on geological and hydrological properties, which can be challenging to obtain. To address this issue, data-driven machine learning models are used to predict and optimize groundwater levels using available data. This paper argues that using machine learning to model groundwater level data improves predicting and optimizing groundwater levels for setting up a managed aquifer recharge scheme. The West Coast Aquifer System in South Africa was used as a case study. The neural network autoregression model was used for the analysis. Multiple variables such as rainfall, temperature, and groundwater usage were input parameters in the mode to facilitate predictions. Outputs from the model showed how machine learning models can enhance the interpretation of observed and modelled results on groundwater levels to support groundwater monitoring and utilization. In areas with high dependence on groundwater and where data on abstraction (use) and monitoring were scarce, results showed that feasible measures were available to improve groundwater security. Although the simulation results were inconclusive, the results provided insights into how the use of machine learning can provide information to inform setting up a managed aquifer recharge scheme.

Abstract

The Natural Background Level (NBL) of contaminants in groundwater is typically determined using regional-scale monitoring networks or site-specific studies. However, regional scale values are limited in their ability to capture natural heterogeneities that affect contaminant mobility at smaller scales, potentially leading to local over- or underestimation of the natural contaminant concentration. Conversely, site-specific studies can be expensive and time-consuming, with limited use outside the specified case study. To overcome this issue, a study was conducted in a 2600 km2 area, analyzing arsenic concentration values from monitoring networks of sites under remediation as an alternative source of information. The main drawbacks of the alternative dataset were the lack of information on monitoring procedures at the remediation sites or potential anthropogenic influences on the concentration data. However, these limitations were adequately managed with a thorough data pre-treatment procedure informed by a conceptual model of the study area. The NBLs estimated with the alternative dataset were more reliable than that from the regional monitoring network, which, in the worst case (i.e., in the area with the highest geological and geochemical heterogeneity), the NBL of one order of magnitude was underestimated. As a future step, the project seeks to incorporate geological and geochemical heterogeneities as secondary variables in a geostatistical analysis to produce a continuous distribution of arsenic concentrations at the mesoscale. This would provide a useful tool for managing contaminated sites and a reproducible protocol for NBL derivation in different areas, overcoming the scale issue.

Abstract

The abstract presents a 2D modelling approach alternative to a 3D variable saturated groundwater model of solute or heat transport at the regional scale. We use FEFLOW to represent processes in the saturated zone, coupled with various models describing the unsaturated zone. The choice of the latter depends on modelling needs, i.e. simulation of the movement of seepage water and nitrate fate with respect to crop rotation patterns and dynamic characteristics of heat gradients, respectively. The flexibility of coupling specialized models of different subsurface compartments provides the opportunity to investigate the effects of land use changes on groundwater characteristics, considering the relevant drivers in sufficient detail, which is important in regions with intensive anthropogenic activities. The coupling can be operated either with (direct coupling) or without (sequential coupling) including the feedback between the saturated and the unsaturated zones depending on the depth of the groundwater table below the surface. Thus, the approach allows for reasonable computational times. The Westliches Leibnitzer Feld aquifer in Austria (43 km²; Klammler et al., 2013; Rock and Kupfersberger, 2018) will be presented as an example highlighting the needed input data, the modelling workflow and the validation against measurements.

Abstract

The interaction between dryland hydrological fluxes and the high spatial and seasonal climate variability is inherently complex. Groundwater recharge is episodic, and rivers are ephemeral. When flow occurs in the river network, water is lost through the riverbed, giving rise to focused recharge, which could be a significant part of total recharge. We have used the integrated and physically based MIKE SHE modelling system to analyze the hydrological processes and fluxes in the 7,715 km2 Hout-Sand catchment in the South African part of the Limpopo River Basin. The discharge hydrograph measured at the outlet station is highly episodic, with a small baseline flow component superimposed by high flow events in response to intense rainfall. Likewise, the groundwater hydrographs from the area are characterized by rapid increases in groundwater levels in response to high rainfall events with recurrence intervals of several years. Due to the scarcity of basic measurements and information, we used data products from satellite platforms to supplement the information on rainfall, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, land use and irrigated areas. We applied MIKE SHE to test different conceptual flow models of the catchment by calibrating the different models against direct measurements of river discharge and groundwater levels and indirect estimates of evapotranspiration and soil moisture from satellite products. By analyzing the simulated model dynamics and the resulting values for the calibration parameters, we identified the most plausible conceptual model, which then forms the basis for water resources assessment and management recommendations for the Hout-Sand catchment.

Abstract

The Anglo-American Municipal Capability & Partnership Program (MCPP) has partnered with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to implement programs focused on Strategic Water Management and Strategic Planning within the Gamagara and Tsantsabane Local municipalities within the Northern Cape Region. The CSIR appointed GEOSS South Africa (Pty) Ltd to assist with Municipal Groundwater Capacity Development and Support for these two municipalities. This work explores multi-level groundwater governance systems between the local municipality, government, the mining industry, and the private groundwater sector. The scope of the work focused on developing a comprehensive and practical groundwater management plan detailing the standard operating procedures for each municipality. These operating procedures have been drawn up using principles of best practice guidelines for groundwater monitoring and management but have taken site-specific details of the groundwater supply to the respective Municipalities into account. Workshops were conducted where Municipal staff were trained in basic principles pertaining to groundwater and practical skills in monitoring and managing their supply. This has proved very successful in informing Municipalities about their local groundwater system and aquifer. The capacity-building development aspect will ensure that Municipalities have the resources and the knowledge to manage their groundwater resource effectively. GEOSS has undergone several training workshops and offers weekly technical support to the two Municipalities. As the confidence of the municipal staff to manage their resource grows, their independence from the mining companies should lessen.

Abstract

Streamwater and groundwater are changing in the Arctic region because of significant climate warming. Arctic amplification has intensified the melting of snow cover, glaciers and permafrost, leading to a prominent variation in the annual discharge of rivers, the groundwater occurrence, and their relationships. In high-latitude regions, evaluating groundwater flux/storage and river discharge is challenging due to a lack of hydrogeological data. Changes in river flows and groundwater discharge will alter freshwater and terrigenous material flux, with implications for freshwater and marine ecosystems. Consequently, a more timely and accurate evaluation of surface and groundwater is required. In this framework, through the ICEtoFLUX project (MUR/PRA2021/project-0027), hydrology, geophysics and geochemical-isotopic surveys have been started during 2022 in the Bayelva River catchment (W-Svalbard) from its glaciers and periglacial/proglacial systems up to the Kongsfjorden. The study aims to quantify hydrologic processes and related transport of matter (solid transport, chemical solutes flux) and investigate how subsurface and surface waters interact during active layer development. The first results suggest that electrical conductivity and total suspended solids increase from glaciers to the Bayelva monitoring station, about 1 km from the coast. Seasonal evolution of physical-chemical features was also observed. Results from geophysics data and piezometers indicate that the underground flow is spatially and temporally heterogeneous, both quantitatively and from a physicochemical-isotopic point of view. Springwater characteristics testify to a deep and well-organized groundwater flow path system. This study highlights the high complexity of these systems and their high sensitivity to the meteo-climatic regimes.

Abstract

In the past decade, Southern Africa has experienced periods of extreme drought. This was especially true in the western Karoo in South Africa. Continuous drought and limited rainfall led to declining aquifer water levels that curtailed sustainable water supply for towns and livestock. The western Karoo is almost completely dependent on groundwater. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is being used to reduce the effects of droughts and mitigate climate change impacts. A good understanding of the geology and the behaviour of the aquifers is needed for implementing various MAR designs, including nature-based solutions, which are used to recharge aquifers with limited rainfall. This paper discusses 5 active MAR case studies in the Western Karoo. Here, site-specific MAR methods that use small rainfall events deliver reasonable results, whereas the implemented MAR options keep most aquifers functional. Observations at the MAR sites also showed improved water quality and less bacterial clogging. This improves the environment around the managed aquifer recharge sites. The MAR methods and designs discussed in this paper can be used on a larger scale for a town or a smaller scale for a farm. Maintenance costs are low, which makes these options cost-effective for less wealthy areas.

Abstract

The City of Windhoek in Namibia has developed wellfields and a managed aquifer recharge scheme within the fractured Windhoek Aquifer to ensure a sustainable potable water supply to the city during drought. A three-dimensional numerical groundwater model of the aquifer was developed using the finite-difference code MODFLOW to determine the potential impacts of varying pump inlet depth elevations and varying production borehole abstraction rates for optimal wellfield and aquifer management. The initial steady-state numerical model was calibrated to September 2011 groundwater levels, representing the best approximation of “aquifer full” conditions (following a good rainfall period and best available data). The subsequent transient numerical model was calibrated against groundwater level fluctuations from September 2011 to August 2019, the period after steady-state calibration for which data was available (and during which monitored groundwater abstraction occurred). The calibrated transient model was used to run various predictive scenarios related to increased emergency groundwater abstraction and estimate potential impacts on the Windhoek Aquifer. These predictive scenarios assessed groundwater level drawdown and recovery, aquifer storage potential, and potential abstraction rates under different pump elevations. Model results indicated a sharp initial groundwater level drop followed by a gradual decrease as groundwater levels approached the 100 m saturated depth mark. Pumping elevations were subsequently updated with recommended abstraction rates and volumes for the entire Windhoek Aquifer. The numerical groundwater model, in association with extensive groundwater monitoring, will be used to assess/manage the long-term sustainable and optimal utilisation of the Windhoek Aquifer.

Abstract

Groundwater represents a crucial source of drinking water in the Lille metropolitan area. Despite its importance, the resource is vulnerable to the potential evolution of land use: recharge, runoff and evapotranspiration processes in a soil-sealing context and changes in cultural practices. As a result, stakeholders emphasized the importance of exploring the influence of land use on groundwater to ensure sustainable resource management and enhance territorial planning. The 3D hydrodynamic model helped manage groundwater resources, but the (MARTHE code) has a significant limitation in that it does not consider the impact of land use evolution. We propose to investigate the contribution of a hydrological distributed numerical approach incorporating land cover data in groundwater modelling compared to a global approach at the scale of a peri-urban territory. To do so, we use the HELP code by considering the temporal and spatial evolution of land use and their associated characteristics, such as vegetation and soil properties, to detail recharge and runoff over more than 20 years that we incorporate into the initial groundwater model.

The two approaches yielded comparable global water balance results. However, at the local scale, the model accounting for land use showed significantly different hydric components. Choosing the appropriate model depends on the specific research question and spatial scale, and considering land use evolution is crucial for accurate urban planning impact assessments, especially at the district level.

Abstract

Groundwater is a vital freshwater source, and its role in meeting water demands will become pivotal under future climate change and population growth. However, groundwater supply to meet this demand is at risk as aquifers can be rapidly contaminated, and the cost of aquifer rehabilitation and/or sourcing alternative water supplies can be high. The development of groundwater protection schemes is required to ensure long-term protection of groundwater quality and sustainable groundwater supply. A groundwater protection scheme is a practical and proactive means to maintain groundwater quality and forms an additional methodology for groundwater resource management/protection. There are no legislative guidelines on establishing groundwater protection schemes in water-scarce South Africa, despite groundwater being used extensively. Three groundwater protection schemes were designed and implemented to protect abstraction from a fractured aquifer in an undeveloped natural mountain catchment and two primary aquifers within different urban settings. The approach incorporated protection zone delineation (comprising four zones), aquifer vulnerability mapping/ ranking using the DRASTIC method (with the primary and fractured aquifer systems having varying vulnerabilities), and identification of potentially contaminating activities (which also vary significantly between the urban areas overlying the two primary aquifers, and the generally undeveloped natural mountain catchment fractured aquifer is situated within). Additionally, a protection response was established to determine monitoring frequencies. Practical insights into the design and implementation of these three groundwater protection schemes can serve as a model for implementation in other African aquifer systems.

Abstract

The current study investigates the spatial patterns and temporal dynamics of the groundwater and surface water interactions for integrated water resource management practices. This follows the results of the groundwater flow conceptual and numerical models developed for the Middle Letaba sub-catchment, indicating that groundwater and surface water interactions play a fundamental role in determining the hydrological water balance. The study area is an example of a fully allocated surface water resource in the northeastern part of South Africa, extensively developed for domestic use and agricultural farming. As a result of the semi-arid nature of the climate, limited surface water resources and increasing water demand, the situation has contributed to groundwater as the only dependable source of water supply for various uses. However, in the last few decades, periodic water level measurements in several boreholes indicated a continuous drop in the piezometric surface over time. This study utilised HydroGeoSphere to simulate water flow processes in a fully integrated and physically based model.

The results of the steady-state groundwater flow simulation indicated that recharge from the rainfall and river leakages are the most important components of the inflows that control the availability of groundwater. Water resources management scenarios suggest a continuous decline in water level, which strongly influences the groundwater flow dynamics and future availability of fresh water. Regular monitoring and management of groundwater level and abstraction are required to avoid overexploitation and possible groundwater contamination due to the strong interaction between surface water and groundwater.

Abstract

Having knowledge of spatiotemporal groundwater recharge is crucial for optimizing regional water management practices. However, the lack of consistent ground hydrometeorological data at regional and global scales has led to the use of alternative proxies and indicators to estimate impacts on groundwater recharge, enabling effective management of future water resources. This study explores the impact of land use changes and wildfires on groundwater recharge at a regional scale in Bolivia, using an alternative indicator to estimate variations in groundwater recharge rates. Based on a study by de Freitas L. in 2021, the methodology developed the annual groundwater recharge reduction rate (RAPReHS) utilizing remotely sensed data from the FLDAS and TERRACLIMATE datasets. The RAPReHS employs a simplified version of the water balance equation, estimating direct vertical groundwater recharge by considering the difference between precipitation, evapotranspiration, and runoff. The methodology was upscaled to improve data processing and analysis efficiency using an open-source cloud-computing platform (Google Earth Engine) over a 20-year period. The first results reveal a strong correlation between decreasing groundwater recharge rates and natural vegetation in the eastern region. By utilizing the RAPReHS index, forest preservation strategies can be prioritized. This study is in the framework of SDG 13 (Climate Action), which aims to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the environment and society. By exploring the impact of land use changes and wildfires on groundwater recharge at a regional scale in Bolivia, this research contributes to the inclusion of groundwater in policy guidelines for sustainable water management

Abstract

Groundwater quality and groundwater sample representativeness depend on the integrity of the water supply and monitoring wells. Well-integrity issues can occur by improper placement of grout seals behind the protective casing and/or by improper backfilling processes between ports. Multi-level monitoring systems are becoming common in the industry, providing depth-discrete groundwater samples and hydraulic head data from a single borehole. However, isolation between the monitoring intervals can be challenging when backfilled methods are used. No independent verification method exists to confirm seal placement for isolating monitoring intervals in such multi-level wells. A new approach using a hybrid fibre optic cable for adding heat, referred to as Active Distributed Temperature Sensing (A-DTS), is deployed in the annular space of a backfilled multi-level well. This new method is used to quantify the position of bentonite used as seals and sand packs that define the monitoring interval lengths and to identify issues associated with backfilling. A-DTS data from three boreholes with back-filled multilevel systems to 85 mbgs in a dolostone aquifer in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, demonstrates clear boundaries between backfill materials. In one interval, a deviation in the thermal data suggests a bridge in the bentonite seal, and this interval coincides with challenges in the backfilling from the field notes. The proposed method verifies well completion details, is repeatable and provides an efficient and effective way to assess well integrity impacting measurement uncertainty in a range of well types.

Abstract

Globally, losses of excess nitrogen (N) from agriculture are affecting our air and water quality. This is a well-known environmental threat and is caused by food production for an ever-growing population. Since the 1980s, many European countries, such as Denmark, have successfully combatted N pollution in the aquatic environment by regulating and introducing national agricultural one-size-fits-all mitigation measures. However, further reduction of the N load is still required to meet the demands of, e.g., the EU water directives. Scientifically and politically, implementing additional targeted N regulation of agriculture is a way forward. A comprehensive Danish groundwater and modelling concept has been developed to produce high-resolution groundwater N retention maps showing the potential for natural denitrification in the subsurface. The concept’s implementation aims to make future targeted N regulation successful environmentally and economically. Quaternary deposits, formed by a wide range of glacial processes and abundant in many parts of the world, often have a very complex geological and geochemical architecture. The results show that the subsurface complexity of these geological settings in selected Danish catchments results in large local differences in groundwater N retention. This indicates a high potential for targeted N regulation at the field scale. A prioritization tool is presented that has been developed for cost-efficient implementation at a national level to select promising areas for targeted N regulation.

Abstract

To better understand the role of groundwater contribution to baseflow and EWR in groundwater protection and allocation, groundwater contribution must be quantified. Groundwater contribution to baseflow remains a challenge. Baseflow values have been widely used as groundwater contribution to surface water, which overestimates or underestimates the role of groundwater in the ecological ecosystem sustainability. To achieve the aim of the study, which was to estimate groundwater contribution to baseflow in a perennial river system at a catchment scale of the Upper Berg catchment, three objectives were taken into consideration: 1) To describe the hydrogeology of river morphology for groundwater-surface water interaction, 2) To estimate groundwater contribution to baseflow 3) To demonstrate the use of the background condition in setting resource quality objectives. Baseflow separation method using the Lynne & Hollick and Chapman algorithms, mass balance equation using EC as the tracer, field observation, and hydrochemical analysis methods were used to determine groundwater contribution to baseflow. Based on the hydrogeological cross-section presented, the fractures and faults of the peninsula geological formation dominating the study area predicted groundwater contribution to baseflow, which was confirmed by the calculations. The mass balance equation showed that 2,397 % of the 7.9 % baseflow index calculated at G1H076 and 19,093% of the 7.2% baseflow index calculated at G1H077 was groundwater. The background condition of the Upper Berg catchment was determined to be pristine with clean water.

Abstract

Across Africa, given the pressing challenges of climate change and widespread water, food and livelihood insecurity and poverty, there is an ever-increasing expanding role for groundwater in resilience building, especially in borderland communities. This situation is being investigated in several projects and geographies. This paper’s groundwater management analysis was based on literature reviews, key informant interviews (KIIs), and focus group discussions (FGDs) in selected case study areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The KIIs included representatives of water management institutions, community leaders, international development partners, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the use or management of groundwater. The FGDs occurred in borderland communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia (with these three countries sharing borders) and Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe (with these three also sharing borders). The findings show that informal institutions such as clan, tribal or ethnic affiliations dictate access to natural resources such as groundwater in borderlands. These same Institutions also play a significant role in conflict resolution in the borderland areas. In addition, informal institutions play an essential role in groundwater management and should also be recognised – in engagements and formal water policies and legislation. Formal organisations, institutions and government structures should strengthen their focus on ensuring that discussions and decisions include informal role players. Further developing and enforcing conventions, land-use plans, and bylaws governing access to and use of groundwater should ensure engagement and co-creation of solutions towards effective water resource management.

Abstract

Groundwater in flooded abandoned mines could be used for geothermal purposes using heat pumps and an open loop involving pumping and re-injection. Hydraulic conductivity values of the mined rock zones have been artificially increased. However, long-term efficiency and the possible impacts of geothermal doublets must be studied involving a series of hydrogeological challenges. Hot water would be pumped from the deep parts of the mine works, and cold water would be re-injected in a shallower gallery or shallow fractured rocks, with a seasonal flow inversion for building cooling during the hot season. Indeed, a ‘short-cut’ groundwater flow is to be avoided between the mine’s deep and shallow parts. The true geometry of the interconnected network of open galleries and shafts can be highly complex and must be conceptualized realistically to ensure that the model is feasible and reliable.

This model must involve groundwater flow and heat transport, with temperature-dependent density and viscosity, in a complex 3D heterogeneous domain of highly fractured rocks and partially collapsed exploitation zones, galleries, and shafts. Such a model is nevertheless widely recommended to design and optimize the short--, mid-, and long-term efficiency of the geothermal system and assess possible environmental impacts. An example of simulations on a synthetic case will be used for illustration and preparation work before further application in a real case study.

Abstract

Basin-scale studies addressing the transfer of pollutants among groundwater and surface water bodies are essential to support local authorities in the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This work revealed that, in the hydro-system of the Oglio River basin (Northern Italy), nitrate pollution in groundwater, originated by overfertilization, is transferred downstream to surface water bodies via outflow through lowland springs and baseflow to gaining rivers. Downstream groundwater is unaffected due to reducing conditions that facilitate denitrification. It follows that efficient measures to reduce nitrate pollution in surface water bodies should not be applied solely to rivers/streams but, instead, they should include the upstream groundwater body. The work aimed at understanding nitrate pollution dynamics in an intensively irrigated hydro-system, focusing on the role played by the complex interaction among irrigation water, surface water and groundwater. The study relied on nitrate concentration, Cl/Br ratio, stable isotopic composition of water, nitrate and boron in groundwater, river, lake, spring, and rainwater samples. Results highlighted a well-defined spatial distribution of nitrate concentrations in groundwater, mainly driven by irrigation practices: (1) where groundwater-fed irrigation is done, return flow promotes high nitrate concentrations (>50 mg/L) due to groundwater recirculation; (2) where intensive surface-water-irrigation is practised, fed by low-nitrate river water, return flow generates lower nitrate concentrations (<50 mg/L) due to dilution. This work highlighted the importance of a holistic approach jointly investigating surface water, groundwater, and irrigation water when nitrate pollution is examined at a basin scale.

Abstract

Communities in the Lower Shire River Valley in the Chikwawa District of southern Malawi face extreme development challenges due to highly variable climate, including floods and droughts, that trap them in poverty and food insecurity. The area has been the focus of numerous studies and data collection campaigns to understand better the causes and processes associated with brackish groundwater (in alluvial aquifers) and dry boreholes. An applied groundwater assessment was performed to evaluate water supply alternatives and solutions to deliver potable water to approximately 15% of the district without water access after a multi-year campaign to reach 100%. The assessment synthesized a significant volume of water quality data collected by researchers and nongovernment organizations, larger scale geological interpretations published in segmented literature, multi-spectral satellite imagery datasets, and combined field reconnaissance to investigate areas of interest further and address pertinent data gaps. Improved understanding of geologic structure and lithology, complex aquifer recharge, and evapotranspiration processes supported identifying areas unsuitable for groundwater development and yielded recommendations for groundwater exploration and other solutions.

A high permeability zone and strong surface-groundwater connection was identified along the Gungu River. Data collected throughout the area of interest corroborated that significant freshwater recharge occurs in the alluvial aquifer, promoting an aquifer zone where freshwater and higher yields are likely. Exploratory drilling resulted in a very high-yielding freshwater well that supported the development of a piped water system serving several villages.

Abstract

To increase the security of groundwater resources, managed aquifer recharge (MAR) programs have been developed and implemented globally. MAR is the intentional recharge and storage of water in an aquifer, which will be recovered later. It was previously known and implemented as Artificial Recharge (AR). In South Africa, the documented practice dates back 40 years. There are five main MAR methods: Well-Shaft-Borehole, Spreading-induced bank infiltration, In-channel modifications, and Runoff harvesting. Two regional-scale MAR suitability maps for the Spreading Method (SM) and the Well-Shaft-Borehole (WSB) Method were compiled for South Africa, using the Geographic Information System combined with Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (GIS-MCDA) methodology. Parameters used to compute the maps included the nature of the different aquifers, groundwater level, water quality (EC), distance to river, terrain slope, mean annual rainfall, land cover, soil moisture availability and clogging (Fe-iron content). To create a suitability map, the parameters were combined using the weighted overlay method and the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP – specifically the pairwise comparison). The site suitability maps indicated that most areas in South Africa are suitable for the Spreading and Well-Shaft-Borehole methods. The results were verified with the location of existing MAR schemes and were found to agree. However, these maps are not applicable for siting projects at a local scale but can serve as a guide and screening tool for site-specific studies looking for highly suitable or target areas for MAR implementation

Abstract

Prevention of threats to the quality and quantity of groundwater supply is critical to ensure its sustainability. Several African studies have shown that contamination of aquifers is primarily caused by improper placement of land-based human activities. Therefore, adequate preventative measures are required to safeguard the water quality of African aquifers to avoid long-term deterioration. Spatially explicit, 3D numerical groundwater modelling is a common methodology to assess contaminant transport. However, model development is time-consuming and complex. Contrastingly, DRASTIC-L is a 2D, GIS-based aquifer vulnerability mapping technique. The method is simple to apply, but analyses are qualitative and subjective. The study aims to compare both methods and to combine their strengths using GIS overlay. Overall, aquifer vulnerability was determined using the DRASTIC-L method, while wellhead protection areas were delineated using steady-state numerical modelling. This study focuses on the Cape Flats area due to its rapid development and growing municipal water supply supplementation needs. DRASTIC-L mapping revealed that aquifers in the Cape Flats are highly vulnerable to contamination due to the region’s unconfined hydrogeological properties, shallow water table and high-risk land use types. Moreover, groundwater vulnerability mapping combined with the delineation of wellhead protection areas allows for reduced uncertainty in the contamination potential of delineated groundwater protection zones. As a result, this study highlights the need for overall resource protection of the Cape Flats aquifers and provides insights into mapping out potential source protection areas of existing water supply wells.

Abstract

Emerging contaminants (e.g. pharmaceuticals or pesticides) are increasingly detected in aquatic environments. The most apparent contamination source of river water pollution by pharmaceuticals is sewage treatment plant stations that discharge treated sewage effluent to the rivers. The river bank filtration systems (RBF) can effectively remove these contaminants. The two RBF sites were examined for pharmaceuticals: Śrem and Gorzów waterworks. The water samples for pharmaceuticals investigation were taken from the river and four continuously pumped wells at each site. Two wells near the river were chosen at each site (40-50 m) and two at a greater distance from the river (70 m in Śrem and 110 m in Gorzów). A visible increase in pharmaceutical concentrations was observed along the river. The sum of pharmaceuticals concentration is 8151 ng/l in Śrem (upstream), while in Gorzów (downstream) concentration is 9142 ng/l. A very big differentiation in pharmaceutical occurrence was observed. In Śrem, the sum of pharmaceuticals concentration is between 657 and 3290 ng/l, while in Gorzów, despite the higher concentrations of pharmaceuticals in the river, these substances were detected only in one well located at a close distance from the river (two substances at a concentration of 92 ng/l).

The research proves a very big differentiation of pharmaceutical concentration even on sites located at similar hydrogeological conditions and demonstrates the necessity of its monitoring, especially in groundwater strongly influenced by river water contamination (like at RBF sites). This work has received funding from the National Science Centre Poland (grant no. 2021/41/B/ST10/00094).

Abstract

The Geneva aquifer is internationally recognized for its transboundary resource management agreement between Switzerland and France, described as the first groundwater management agreement in the world. Signed in 1978 and renewed in 2008, this agreement on managing a shared underground resource has long been an example for establishing other agreements worldwide, particularly by UNESCO and its hydrological program via the TBA commission of the IAH. Like many countries worldwide, Switzerland and France experienced a critical summer of 2022 concerning the use of water resources, both surface and underground. The system applied in the cross-border agreement for using the aquifer involves French participation in the costs of managing aquifer recharge (MAR), depending on the total pumping. It shows that the French part, having consumed more water to compensate for the extreme drought of 2022, has seen its bills increase considerably. Development plans show that the population of Greater Geneva will increase considerably by 2030-2040, requiring significant medium-term water availability (30% additional water). Therefore, the French institutions’ political leaders have formally asked the authorities of the canton of Geneva to review the conditions linked to the quotas and calculation methods included in the 2008 agreement. A new agreement could be a real example of positive cross-border coordination for decision-makers finding themselves in a blocked or even conflicting situation due to differences in managing a shared resource revived by the effects of climate change.

Abstract

Darcy Velocity (Vd) is often estimated through a single-borehole Point Dilution Tracer Test (PDTT). Vd is used in the investigation of contaminant transport and distribution in aquifers. The tracer dilution rate in groundwater is controlled by horizontal groundwater flux. However, it can be affected by other artefacts, such as diffusion and density effects. Although there are studies on tracer tests, there has not been much done to gain an understanding of how these artefacts affect the correct Vd estimation. This study, therefore, aims to investigate and provide an understanding of the influence of artefacts on the PDTT through laboratory experiments conducted using a physical model representing a porous media. A total of 18 experiments were performed with different NaCl tracer concentrations under constant horizontal groundwater flow and no-flow conditions. The study results show that the density sinking effect affects an early period of tracer dilution, which can lead to overestimation of Vd; therefore, these stages should not be used to estimate Vd. The study, therefore, proposes a way in which PDTT data should be analysed to understand the effects of artefacts on Darcy velocity estimation.

Abstract

The joint application of water supply system security, groundwater modelling, and multicriteria analysis (MCA) indicated the potential of Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) to increase water supply security in Eastern Botswana substantially. Botswana faces increased water stress due to decreased water availability as climate change exacerbates variability in rainfall and increases evaporation losses and water demand. The water supply for Eastern Botswana is based on the bulk water supply system of the North-South Carrier (NSC) connecting dams in the northeast to the main demand centres, including Gaborone. The potential of MAR to increase the water security of the NSC by storing water that otherwise would have been lost to spillover and evaporation and contribute to the provision of water during droughts was studied. Large-scale MAR in the Ntane sandstone aquifer at a wellfield by the NSC was evaluated in terms of hydrogeology and national water supply perspective. Comprehensive hydrogeological surveys and assessments included borehole injection tests and hydrogeological and geochemical modelling to evaluate risks of losing recharged water and clogging of boreholes. Probabilistic water supply system modelling analysed the impact of different MAR scenarios on the water supply security of the NSC, and an MCA tool assessed the sustainability of the different scenarios. The analysis showed that large-scale MAR is feasible, and a scheme with a capacity of 40,000 m3 /d is the most sustainable from technical, social, economic and environmental perspectives and could potentially reduce the number of months with water shortage by 50% in Gaborone.

Abstract

The devastating socioeconomic impacts of recent droughts have intensified the need for improved drought monitoring in South Africa (SA). This study has shown that not all indices can be universally applicable to all regions worldwide, and no single index can represent all aspects of droughts. This study aimed to review the performance and applicability of the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), surface water supply index (SWSI), vegetation condition index (VCI), standardised precipitation index (SPI), standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), standardised streamflow index (SSI), standardised groundwater index (SGI), and GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment)-based drought indices in SA and provide guidelines for selecting feasible candidates for integrated drought monitoring. The review is based on the 2016 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Handbook of Drought Indicators and Indices guidelines. The PDSI and SWSI are not feasible in SA, mainly because they are relatively complex to compute and interpret and cannot use readily available and accessible data. Combining the SPI, SPEI, VCI, SSI, and SGI using multi-index or hybrid methods is recommended. Hence, with best fitting probability distribution functions (PDFs) used and an informed choice between parametric and non-parametric approaches, this combination has the potential for integrated drought monitoring. Due to the scarcity of groundwater data, investigations using GRACE-based groundwater drought indices must be carried out. These findings may contribute to improved drought early warning and monitoring in SA.

Abstract

A hydrogeological investigation was conducted at a gold mine in the Mandiana region, northeast Guinea. The objectives of the investigation included: 1) Review the efficiency of the current dewatering system and 2) Assess potential dewatering impacts on neighbouring groundwater users. Historical and current hydrogeological information were reviewed and assessed to address the project objectives. The site geological succession contains laterites, saprolites, saprock, dolorite sill and fresh fractured bedrock below. A review of the borehole lithological logs, pump test and monitoring data confirmed that the contact zone between the saprock and the dolorite sill is the major aquifer zone with hydraulic conductivity up to 25 m/d, with a minor alluvial aquifer with hydraulic conductivity ~ 0.05 m/d. The current dewatering system is not as effective as it should be due to electrical issues causing seepage into the current pit floor. A combination of in-pit sumps and dewatering boreholes is recommended to ensure the mine pit’s dry working conditions. The neighbouring groundwater users tap into the alluvial aquifer with water levels ranging between 0-10 mbgl and are not at risk from mine dewatering impacts due to the dewatering boreholes tapping into the deeper saprock-dolorite contact zone. The shallow and deeper aquifers are hydraulically disconnected. The following is recommended: 1) Drilling of replacement dewatering boreholes and implementing continuous water level and abstraction rate monitoring, and 2) Discharge the in-pit sumps (alluvial aquifer inflow and rainfall) into the river downgradient of the mine to supplement recharge to the alluvial aquifer.

Abstract

Sacred wells are found across the world yet are rarely studied by hydrogeologists. This paper will present the results of a 5-year hydrogeological study of holy wells in Ireland, a country with a relatively large number of these wells (perhaps as many as 3,000). It was shown that holy wells occur in all the main lithology and aquifer types but are more numerous in areas with extreme or high groundwater vulnerability. Water samples were collected from 167 wells and tested for up to 60 chemical parameters, including a large range of trace elements. Statistical analyses were performed to see if there were any statistically significant associations between the chemical constituents and the reputed health cures for the different well waters, and the results will be presented here. One of the issues in communicating the research findings to the general public is in explaining the small concentrations involved and the likely very small doses pilgrims at holy wells receive during their performances of faith. The spiritual dimension, including the therapeutic value of the landscape where the well is located, is likely an important aspect of the healing reputation.

Abstract

Groundwater is connected with the earth’s interior, atmosphere, ocean sphere, and human sphere. Fluid, heat, and dissolved materials are crossed over the boundaries of adjacent spheres with different time scales in dynamics. These different time scales include event scales such as earthquakes and Tsunami, seasonal scales such as precipitation seasonality, a decade or longer scales such as climate change, and human scales such as groundwater pumping, land cover/use changes, and social revolutions such as industrialization, green revolution, urbanization, and globalization in Anthropocene. This study shows two examples of groundwater connected with different time scales. The first is thermal signals preserved in groundwater by earthquake, climate change, and anthropogenic impacts with different time scales. Thermal signals in groundwater from the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016 revealed evidence of fluid flow from the earth interior and Aso mountain. The thermal signal in groundwater in Kumamoto also showed the impacts of global warming and urbanization, as well as changes in precipitation and land use. The second example is the connectivity between residence time of groundwater and groundwater consumption in social revolutions such as industrialization and urbanization in the Anthropocene, as well as World War II as an example of groundwater for emergency situations.

Abstract

Conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater plays a pivotal role in sustainably managing water resources. An increase in population, especially in the cities, increases the demand for water supply. Additional infrastructure to meet the needs and treatment techniques to remove the pollutants should be updated from time to time. Closing the urban water cycle by recycling and reusing treated sewage in the water sector can significantly reduce excessive groundwater extraction. However, this method is being implemented in only a few cities in developed countries. In the closed urban water cycle, treated sewage is discharged to rivers or other surface water bodies and used for managed aquifer recharge (MAR). Bank filtration, soil aquifer treatment and infiltration ponds are available MAR methods that augment the groundwater resources and remove pollutants during the natural infiltration process. These cost-effective natural treatment methods serve as a pre-treatment technique before public water supply to remove turbidity, algal toxins, bulk dissolved organic carbon and pathogenic microorganisms. The successful performance of these treatment methods depends on the need and feasibility for MAR, suitable hydrogeological conditions, sub-surface storage capacity of the aquifers, availability of suitable areas for MAR, type of MAR, source of recharge water, quality criteria, assessing the past, present and future climatic conditions. Case studies on groundwater resources management and water quality assessment, including for organic micropollutants from a large urban catchment in India, are presented.

Abstract

Groundwater is a hidden resource, so as part of making it more visible, geophysical methods can be very useful in inferring the delineation of aquifers and/or more productive zones to target in fractured rock environments. The most commonly used techniques to assist groundwater studies or exploration are still resistivity profiles or sections known as ERT or electrical resistivity tomography and vertical electrical soundings or VES. One of the limiting factors with this technique is the scale of what surveys can be conducted, resulting in, at best, some kilometers per day. The Hydrogeophysics group of Aarhus University have developed the towed transient electromagnetic (tTEM) system as a cost-efficient tool for characterizing regional hydrological systems to depths of up to 70 m as an alternative to these more traditional methods - which is highly productive in that collection of 40- to-80-line kilometers of data per day is feasible. The system is based on the transient electromagnetic (TEM) method, which involves using a transmitter and receiver coil to measure the electrical resistivity of the subsurface. The hydrological value in electrical resistivity images stems from the ability to delineate different hydrogeological units based on their contrasting electrical properties. Consequently, 3D electrical resistivity images can infer the subsurface hydrogeology and enhance the success of installing productive boreholes. This work presents case studies from several African countries (e.g., South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Togo). It demonstrates how the tTEM method can identify reliable drinking water sources in these countries.

Abstract

Kinsevere Mine is an open pit copper mine located within the Central African Copper Belt, experiencing common water challenges as mining occurs below the natural water table. The site’s conceptual model is developed and updated as one of the tools to manage and overcome the water challenges at and around the mining operations. The natural groundwater level mimics topography but is also affected by the operations. The pits act as sinks. The water table is raised below the waste dumps due to recharge in these areas, and the general groundwater flow direction is to the east. The site is drained by the Kifumashi River, located to the north of the site. Water levels from dewatering boreholes and natural surface water bodies define the site’s piezometric surface. The geological model is adopted to define the aquifers and groundwater controls. The Cherty Dolomites, a highly fractured Laminated Magnesite Unit, contribute the highest inflows into the mine workings. The Central Pit Shear Zone acts as a conduit and compartment for groundwater between Mashi and Central Pits. Hydraulic tests have been conducted over the years, and these data are used to estimate possible aquifer property values. The high-yielding aquifer on the west is dewatered using vertical wells, and the low-yielding breccia on the east is depressurized using horizontal drain holes. The site’s water management strategy is reviewed and improved through refinement of the conceptual model.

Abstract

Understanding and quantifying hydrology processes represent a mandatory step in semi-arid/arid regions for defining the vulnerability of these environments to climate change and human pressure and providing useful data to steer mitigation and resilience strategies. This generally valid concept becomes even more stringent for highly sensitive ecosystems, such as small islands like Pianosa. The project intends to deploy a multi-disciplinary approach for better understanding and quantifying the hydrological processes affecting water availability and their evolution, possibly suggesting best practices for water sustainability.

First results pointed out as over the last decade the precipitation regime has led to a major rate of evapotranspiration and minor effective infiltration that caused a decreasing of piezometric level over several years. Quantity and chemical-isotopic features of rainfall and effective infiltration water measured/collected by a raingauge and a high precision lysimeter describe the hydrological processes at soil level and characterize the rate and seasonality of groundwater recharge. Hydrogeological and geochemical data of groundwater are highlighting the distribution and relationship among different groundwater components, including the seawater intrusion. Furthermore, the comparative analyses of continuative data monitoring in wells and weather station showed the presence of possible concentrated water infiltration processes during rainfall extreme events that induce a quick response of shallow groundwater system in terms of water level rise and decrease of electrical conductivity. Thus, elements of vulnerability of the aquifer to pollution are pointed out, as well as the possibility to provide technical solutions for enhancing water infiltration and groundwater availability.

Abstract

Groundwater level monitoring is essential for assessing groundwater’s availability, behaviour and trend. Associated with a modelling tool, groundwater level fluctuations can be predicted in the short to middle term using precipitation probabilities or meteorological forecasts. This is the purpose of the MétéEAU Nappes tool implemented by BRGM for the City of Cape Town (CoCT) in the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA). This case study shows how near real-time groundwater level monitoring can support the municipality in managing its future groundwater withdrawals. The TMGA is an important source of groundwater in the Western Cape region of South Africa. The upper Nardouw Sub-Aquifer of the TMGA is an unconfined aquifer recharged by rainfall. It had been monitored in the Steenbras area for over 10 years before CoCT started groundwater production from the Steenbras wellfield in 2021. The MétéEAU Nappes forecasting tool is already implemented on many observation wells of the French national piezometric network, where it is used for decision-making by the French administration. It allows, in particular, to anticipate several threshold levels of drought and take appropriate measures. It combines real-time water cycle measurement data with a groundwater level lumped model (e.g. Gardenia model) and extrapolates observations for the next 6 months from statistical meteorological scenarios completed with abstraction scenarios. This tool can help protect the Steenbras wellfield as a critical water source for CoCT in the TMGA. This study was financed by the French Agency for Development (AFD).

Abstract

Studies have examined the effects of groundwater pumping on nearby streams. Groundwater pumping affects streamflow, surface water rights, and aquatic ecosystems. This study investigates the impact of groundwater abstraction on surface water bodies. A secondary objective aims to develop a conceptual model to evaluate alternative approaches for streamflow depletion. The study area is a previous UFS/WRC test site along Modder River, Free State, South Africa. Streamflow depletion was simulated using four (4) analytical solutions, i.e., Jenkins (1968), Hantush (1964), Hunt (1999) and Hunt (2003). STRMDEPL08 analytical computer program tool is used to evaluate streamflow depletion. The aquifer parameters: distance of the boreholes to the stream; pumping periods analyzed in steady states conditions for a simulation period of 1 year; transmissivity with an average of 71 m/d; storativity of 0.02; specific yield of the aquitard range between 0.1 to 0.3; and abstraction rate of 2 l/s are defined for the hypothetical model. The average distances tested range from 10 m to 6,000 m. Pumping rate scenarios for an order of magnitude lower (0.2 l/s), 1 l/s; 4 l/s, and an order of magnitude larger (20 l/s) were simulated. Simulated graphs indicate that streamflow depletion rates are largest if the borehole is closer to the stream and decrease as the distance of the pumped borehole from the stream increases. Cumulative volume graphs for both analytical solutions decrease streamflow depletion volume

Abstract

An end-member mixing analysis has been conducted for the hydrogeological system of the endorheic catchment of the Fuente de Piedra lagoon (Malaga, Southern Spain). Three end-members have been considered because of the three main groundwater types related to the different kinds of aquifers found in the catchment. The model’s objective is to help understand the distribution of the organic contaminants (including contaminants of emerging concern [CECs]) detected in groundwater samples from the catchment. Results suggest that some contaminants can be related to long groundwater residence time fluxes, where contaminant attenuation can be limited due to low oxygen levels and microbial activity. The three main aquifer types are: (i) unconfined carbonate aquifers with low mineralized water corresponding to two mountain ranges with no human activities over theirs surface; (ii) an unconfined porous aquifer formed by Quaternary and Miocene deposits, exposed to pollution from anthropogenic activities (agriculture and urban sources); and (iii) a karstic-type aquifer formed by blocks of limestones and dolostones confined by a clayey, marly and evaporite matrix from Upper Triassic. The groundwater monitoring campaign for the analysis of organic contaminants was carried out in March 2018. Target organic contaminants included pharmaceuticals, personal care products, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, flame retardants and plasticizers. For the mixing model, a dataset was built with the hydrochemistry and isotopic results (δ2 H, δ18O) from the monitoring campaign conducted in March 2018 and from campaigns carried out in previous years and retrieved from the literature.

Abstract

Periodic climate variability, such as that caused by climate teleconnections, can significantly impact groundwater, and the ability to predict groundwater variability in space and time is critical for effective water resource management. However, the relationship between climate variability on a global scale and groundwater recharge and levels remains poorly understood due to incomplete groundwater records and anthropogenic impacts. Moreover, the nonlinear relationship between subsurface properties and surface infiltration makes it difficult to understand climate variability’s influence on groundwater resources systematically. This study presents a global assessment of the impact of climate teleconnections on groundwater recharge and groundwater levels using an analytical solution derived from the Richards equation. The propagation of climate variability through the unsaturated zone by considering global-scale climate variability consistent with climate teleconnections such as the Pacific-North American Oscillation (PNA) and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is evaluated, and it is shown when and where climate teleconnections are expected to affect groundwater levels. The results demonstrate the dampening effect of surface infiltration variability with depth in the vadose zone. Guidance for predicting long-term groundwater levels and highlighting the importance of climate teleconnections in groundwater management is provided. The obtained insights into the spatial and temporal variability of groundwater recharge and groundwater levels due to climate variability can contribute to sustainable water resource management.

Abstract

This study presents a novel approach for developing geologically and hydrogeologically consistent groundwater models at large valley scales. Integrating geological, geophysical, and hydrogeological data into a single model is often challenging, but our methodology overcomes this challenge by combining the Ensemble Smoother with Multiple Data Assimilation algorithm (ESMDA) with a hierarchical geological modelling approach (ArchPy). The ESMDA framework assimilates geophysical and hydrogeological field data jointly. To diminish the computational cost, the forward geophysical and groundwater responses are computed in lower-dimensional spaces relevant to each physical problem, alleviating the computational burden and accelerating the inversion process. Combining multiple data sources and regional conceptual geological knowledge in a stochastic framework makes the resulting model accurate and incorporates robust uncertainty estimation. We demonstrate the applicability of our approach using actual data from the upper Aare Valley in Switzerland. Our results show that integrating different data types, each sensitive to different spatial dimensions enhances the global quality of the model within a reasonable computing time. This automatic generation of groundwater models with a robust uncertainty estimation has potential applications in a wide variety of hydrogeological issues. Our methodology provides a framework for efficiently integrating multiple data sources in geologically consistent models, facilitating the development of hydrogeological models that can inform sustainable water resource management.

Abstract

The geochemical study of deep aquitard water in the southern Golan-Heights (GH), Israel, reveals the complex paleo-hydrological history affected by the intensive tectonic activity of the Dead Sea Rift (DSR). The sampled water collected from new research boreholes exhibits relatively high salinities (2,000-10,000 mg Cl/L), low Na/Cl ((HCO3 +SO4 )). δ18OV-SMOW and δDV-SMOW values are relatively depleted (~-7‰ and ~-42‰, respectively), while 87Sr/86Sr ratios are enriched compared to the host rocks. Lagoonary brines with similar characteristics (excluding the water isotopic compositions) are known to exist along the DSR. These brines formed 10-5 Ma ago from seawater that transgressed into the DSR and subsequently underwent evaporation, mineral precipitation and water-rock interactions. These hypersaline brines intruded into the rocks surrounding the DSR and based on the current study, also extended as far as the southern GH. Further, following their subsurface intrusion into the GH, the brines have been gradually diluted by isotopically depleted freshwater, leaving only traces of brines nowadays. The depleted isotopic composition suggests that the groundwater system is recharged at high elevations in the north. It is also shown that variable hydraulic conductivities in different formations controlled the dilution rates and subsequently the preservation of the entrapped brines. The paleo-hydrological reconstruction presented here shows that the flow direction has reversed over time. Brines that initially intruded from the rift have since been gradually flushed back to the rift by younger fresh groundwater.