Maximize natural storage capacity

One prime aspect of MAR is the assessment of the capability of an aquifer for groundwater storage to quantify the volume of water that can be stored in the subsurface.

Especially in regions with a distinct wet and dry season, the seasonal storage of water becomes a necessity to ensure water supply throughout the whole year. In regions with little precipitation rain events have to be used to full capacity in order to store the maximum water available. Water is increasingly seen as a strategic resource and stored in times of high availability or low demand. This long-term storage of surplus water is called water banking and has been incorporated into water policies in Spain and many states of the USA (Megdal and Dillon, 2015). Another reason to store water is to have it ready as backup in emergency situations, e.g. during longer draughts or contamination of surface water. Subsurface storage of surplus water has many advantages over storage above ground, such as minimal land requirements or the possibility to build a storage unit close to water users. Furthermore, the stored water is less prone to contamination risks, algal problems or evaporation losses. Storage capabilities of the aquifer can be substantial, especially if the aquifer has been previously depleted.

Application of MAR for increased storage capacity of the aquifer has been conducted in India, where excess water during monsoon season was stored in aquifers that were deliberately lowered during the dry season and thus had an increased potential for subsurface storage through ASR wells (Holländer et al., 2009). A study in Spain (Gómez Gómez et al., 2006) also discussed the transitioning of surplus rainwater from winter season to guarantee sufficient water supply during summer. Another assessment of increased subsurface storage through MAR showed that by using continuous contour trenches the recharge of the aquifer could be increased significantly (Shinde et al., 2006).

Within this context, the INOWAS DSS enables the user to identify aquifers that are feasible for MAR. The aquifer storage capacity can be calculated and MAR recharge quantities can be adjusted accordingly. The following INOWAS tools can be used for the assessment:

  • T03. MODFLOW model setup and editor
  • T07. MODFLOW model scenario manager

To select a suitable MAR method or a model set for the specific study area, the following tools can be used:

  • T04. Database for GIS-based suitability mapping
  • T06. MAR method selection
  • T11. MAR model selection


  • Gómez Gómez, J.D., Murillo Diaz, J.M., López Geta, J.A., Rodriguez Hermández, L., 2006. Analysis of feasibility and effects of artificial recharge in some aquifers. Modelling of integrated management in the Medio Vinalopó basin (Alicante, Spain), in: UNESCO (Ed.), Recharge Systems for Protecting and Enhancing Groundwater Resources – Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Management of Aquifer Recharge ISMAR5, Berlin, Germany, 11–16 June 2005, ISMAR Proceedings. pp. 807–812.
  • Holländer, H.M., Mull, R., Panda, S.N., 2009. A concept for managed aquifer recharge using ASR-wells for sustainable use of groundwater resources in an alluvial coastal aquifer in Eastern India. Phys. Chem. Earth Parts ABC 34, 270–278. doi:10.1016/j.pce.2008.05.001
  • Megdal, S., Dillon, P., 2015. Policy and Economics of Managed Aquifer Recharge and Water Banking. Water 7, 592–598. doi:10.3390/w7020592
  • Shinde, M., Smout, I., Gorantiwar, S., 2006. Assessment of water harvesting and groundwater recharge through continuous contour trenches, in: Recharge Systems for Protecting and Enhancing Groundwater Resources; Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Management of Aquifer Recharge ISMAR5, Berlin, Germany, 11–16 June 2005, IHP-VI Series on Groundwater. Presented at the International Symposium on Management of Aquifer Recharge, UNESCO document, Berlin, pp. 229–235.