IWRA Proceedings

< Return to abstract list

Managed Aquifer Recharge With Treated Wastewater: Old Laws For New Uses

World Water Congress 2015 Edinburgh Scotland
15. Water law
Author(s): D'Andrea

D'Andrea (AIDA)

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 15: Water law,


Water banking or managed aquifer recharge (MAR) via the intentional injection or infiltration of water in a groundwater body is an emerging water recycling and storage method that may play an important role in facing water scarcity and securing freshwater for a whole range of human activities (e.g. irrigation, energy production, sanitation or even drinking water supply), as well as for environmental benefit. Source water may come from municipal stormwater or from adequately treated wastewater (TWW). In the latter case, which is the object of this study, a number of sanitary issues acquire particular relevance in addition to the environmental aspects related to aquifer recharge.

The first experiments of wastewater treatment through soil infiltration were initiated between the 1950s and the 1970s, in order to counter the lowering level of water tables in groundwater aquifers. Initially, projects were implemented under existing water legislation which established requirements that were not originally intended to regulate such uses. Since then, specific legal requirements on MAR with TWW have been provided for in a number of countries, although none has yet adopted an integrated licensing system accounting for the complexity of the issue.

This paper is an attempt to identify national trends in legislation on groundwater recharge with TWW in the absence of a specific international framework. It basically aims at capitalizing on existing regulatory experiences against an ideal set of guidelines that have been proposed in early 2014 under the Sustainable Water Integrated Management -- Support Mechanism (SWIM-SM) funded by the European Union (EU). The five legislative case studies prepared under the same project (i.e. Arizona-USA, Israel, South Africa, Spain and Western Australia) form the basis for the analysis, along with additional material subsequently retrieved from various sources. Information has also been collected in loco during a visit to the Atlantis groundwater recharge facilities in South Africa.

Results and Discussion
The afore-mentioned guidelines identify a number of rights that applicants must seek in order to operate a MAR facility, in addition to the requirements for human health and environmental protection. The analysis of national frameworks finds, however, that applicable legislation is currently either fragmented and unspecific -- as it reflects a "pre-MAR" regulatory and institutional set up -- or replaced by policy or strategy instruments which typically lack the legal certainty required for such significant investments (see Table 1 below).

Table 1. Domestic legislation providing for the main rights ideally required for the operation of a groundwater recharge facility with treated wastewater

The adoption of an integrated licensing system enshrined in legislation is thus recommended in order to foster water recycling via groundwater recharge, while ensuring full safety of recovered water for the intended use and respect of the environment. 1) ADWR, 2013. USF and WS Permit Application Guides. Arizona Department of Water Resources, USA, 2013
2) Bennet, M., Gardner, A. and K. Vincent, 2014. Regulatory renovation for managed aquifer recharge using alternative water resources: a Western Australian perspective. In: The Journal of Water Law, Vol. 24, Lawtext Publishing Ltd.
3) Bloomberg, 2012. EPA Shrinking ‘Halliburton Loophole’ Threatens Obama Gas Pledge. By M. Drajem and K. Klimasinska. In: Bloomberg online portal, Feb. 1, 2012 (www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-01/epa-shrinking-halliburton-loophole-threatens-obama-gas-pledge.html) [last accessed on Jan. 13, 2014]
4) Burchi, S., 2014. Study on the legislative framework regulating the recharge of aquifers with adequately treated wastewater. Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) - Support Mechanism, funded by the European Union. [Includes five original legislative case studies prepared by A. DÂ’Andrea]
5) Chapman, G., 2005. From Toilet to Tap: the growing use of reclaimed water and the legal systemÂ’s response. In: 47 Arizona Law Review (2005) 773-804
6) Dillon, P., 2005.Future Management of Aquifer Recharge, in: 13 Hydrogeology Journal (2005) 313-316
7) Dillon, P., Pavelic, P., Page, D., Beringen, H. and J. Ward, 2009. Managed Aquifer Recharge: an Introduction, Australian Government, National Water Commission, Waterlines Report Series No. 13, February 2009
8) Dillon, P.,Vanderzalm, J., Page, D., Toze, S., Wolf, L., Pavelic, P., Cunliffe, D., W. Weiping, W.,Willardson, B.,Tredoux, G., Jain, R., and R. Raj, 2010. Australian Guidelines for Managed Aquifer Recharge and their International Relevance, paper prepared for ISMAR-7 (Abu Dhabi, 9-13 October 2010) (available at http://www.ismar7.org/proceedings/0307.pdf)
9) DSE, 2010.Policies for Managing Section 76 Approvals and other guidance documents on MAR. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria-Australia, 2010
10) DoW, 2011. Operational Policy 1.01 – Managed Aquifer Recharge in Western Australia, Department of Water, Western Australia-Australia, 2011
11) DWAF, 2007. Artificial Recharge Strategy, Version 1.3. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry of South Africa, June 2007
12) DWAF, 2010. Atlantis Water Resource Management Scheme: 30 years of Artificial Groundwater Recharge. By G. Tredoux and J. Cain for DWAF. Pretoria, August 2010
13) EPA, 2009. Guidelines for MAR – Health and Environmental Risk Management. Environmental Protection Agency, Victoria-Australia, 2009
14) Mekorot, 2013. Wastewater treatment and reclamation (http://www.mekorot.co.il)
15) NNC-IAH, 2003. Management of Aquifer Recharge and Subsurface Storage – Making Better Use of Our Largest Reservoir. Eds. Albert Tuinhof Jan Piet Heederik, Seminar Wageningen 18 - 19 December 2002
16) NRMMC–EPHC–NHMRC, 2009. Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling – Managed Aquifer Recharge, National Water Quality Management Strategy, Document No. 24. July 2009
17) Parsons, S., Dillon, P., Irvine, E., Holland, G. and C. Kaufman, 2012. Progress in managed aquifer recharge in Australia. National Water Commission, Canberra ACT, March 2012
18) Steinel, A. 2012. Guideline for assessment and implementation of Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) in (semi-)arid regions – Pre-feasibility study for infiltration of floodwater in the Amman-Zarqa and Azraq basins, Jordan. Technical Cooperation Project No. 2002.3510.1 GeoSFF Study – Managed Aquifer Recharge in Jordan, Final Report. Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Hannover, December 2012
19) Tal, A., 2013. Chapter 14: Management of transboundary wastewater discharges –Wastewater management in urban communities along the Israeli-Palestinian "border". In: Shared Borders, Shared Waters – Israeli-Palestinian and Colorado River Basin Water Challenges, Eds. S.B. Megdal, R.G. Varady and S. Eden, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013
20) Ward, J., and P. Dillon, 2009. Robust Design of Managed Aquifer Recharge Policy in Australia. Facilitating Recycling of Stormwater and Reclaimed Water via Aquifers in Australia - Milestone Report 3.1. Australian Government, National Water Commission, April 2009
21) Ward, J., and P. Dillon, 2011. Robust Policy Design for Managed Aquifer Recharge, Australian Government, National Water Commission, Waterlines Report Series No. 38, January 2011

IWRA Proceedings office@iwra.org - https://www.iwra.org/member/index.php