Watershare workshop on subsurface water storage and water reuse

“Managed Aquifer Recharge schemes may boom if we reduce the uncertainty in effects on water quality,” said prof. Paul Jeffrey, winner of the 2018 IWA Project Innovation Award. Quicker and better water quality predictions will not only help utilities in developing reuse schemes, it will also help decision makers in permitting and policy making. This is needed urgently as current legislation, in the EU and elsewhere, is often not tailored to review subsurface storage and reuse applications.

This was one of the main conclusions from the Watershare workshop on subsurface storage and reuse, which was held at IWA Tokyo, last Tuesday. The workshop brought together aquifer storage and reuse experiences from Korea, Oman, South Africa, the Netherlands and the UK. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) can have an enormous contribution to securing water supply, even in periods of prolonged droughts. For example, in South Africa, a MAR system has supplied the town of Atlantis with potable reuse water for over 40 years already. The Sultanate of Oman is looking into Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) as a backup when supply from desalination plants is disrupted. In the Netherlands, a recently implemented ASR reuse scheme has helped greenhouse farmers get through this year’s exceptionally dry and hot summer.

The workshop concluded with a round-table discussion. The need to speed up MAR and reuse applications worldwide is clear. Dedicated long-term planning, strong communication and involvement of all stakeholders is the key to success. This includes active involvement of policy makers, such that questions and issues related to policy and regulations are addresses from the very beginning.