Restoration of Wadi Aquifers by Artificial Recharge with Treated Waste Water
Fresh water resources within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are a rare and precious commodity that must be managed within a context of integrated water management. Wadi aquifers contain a high percentage of the naturally occurring fresh groundwater in the Kingdom. This resource is currently overused and has become depleted or contaminated at many locations. One resource that could be used to restore or enhance the fresh water resources within wadi aquifers is treated municipal waste water (reclaimed water). Each year about 80 percent of the country’s treated municipal waste water is discharged to waste without any beneficial use. These discharges not only represent a lost water resource, but also create a number of adverse environmental impacts, such as damage to sensitive nearshore marine environments and creation of high-salinity interior surface water areas. An investigation of the hydrogeology of wadi aquifers in Saudi Arabia revealed that these aquifers can be used to develop aquifer recharge and recovery (ARR) systems that will be able to treat the impaired-quality water, store it until needed, and allow recovery of the water for transmittal to areas in demand. Full-engineered ARR systems can be designed at high capacities within wadi aquifer systems that can operate in concert with the natural role of wadis, while providing the required functions of additional treatment, storage and recovery of reclaimed water, while reducing the need to develop additional, energy-intensive desalination to meet new water supply demands.