ISMAR10 – Managed aquifer recharge best practice is showcased and shared in Madrid

Several GRIPP partners came together in Madrid, Spain at the triennial international symposium on managed aquifer recharge (MAR), the tenth (ISMAR10), held at La Nave, 20-24 May, 2019.

The new and outgoing IAH MAR Commission co-chairs. From left: Peter Dillon, IAH; Weiping Wang, University of Jinan; Enrique Fernández Escalante, Grupo Tragsa; Yan Zheng, SUSTech, Catalin Stefan, Technical University of Dresden and CAWR (Photo credit: Jon San Sebastián Sauto, Grupo Gragsa)

The symposium, organized by Grupo Tragsa and Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME), and convened by Enrique Fernández Escalante from Grupo Tragsa, attracted 400 delegates, and is expected to prove instrumental in further enhancing the interest and rollout of MAR globally. Realizing that MAR involves integrated nature-based interventions including various levels of grey infrastructure, the research field of MAR is very diverse and spanning topics from biodiversity and environmental science, to engineering of wellfields and governance and regulations regarding implementation and maintenance of MAR. It is a field, which will keep growing in the future, as we seek to devise solutions to water security, climate change adaptation and food security. The global volume of water recharged via MAR is currently growing at 5% per annum and locally helps increase the water buffer (below the earth surface), by safely harnessing additional water sources, including from natural runoff, reclaimed urban wastewater and stormwater. River and lake bank filtration is also a form of MAR that improves the quality of water supplies.

The field is continuously expanding, assisted by dedicated and multi-disciplinary teams and knowledge exchange, such as occurs at the ISMAR series of symposia, which are coordinated by the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), UNESCO-IHP and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). IAH’s Commission on MAR has since 2001 advocated for research, improved practices and policies and supported networking and dissemination related to MAR. At the IAH MAR Commission plenary at ISMAR10, co-chair of the commission Enrique Fernández Escalante (Spain), was re-elected and two new-co-chairs were elected: Catalin Stefan, Technical University of Dresden and Centre for Advanced Water Research (CAWR) (Germany); and Yan Zheng, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) (China).  Peter Dillon, IAH (Australia), and Weiping Wang, University of Jinan (China) retired.

Recent landmark publications of the commission include a special issue of the journal Water on water quality aspects of MAR and a special issue in the journal Sustainable Water Resources Management on MAR in integrated water management. Furthermore, one of the IAH MAR Commission working groups published an open access paper on ‘Sixty years of global progress in managed aquifer recharge’ in Hydrogeology Journal with support of UNESCO-IHP.

At ISMAR10, a workshop was held by UNESCO-IHP in collaboration with IAH and GRIPP to advance a UNESCO publication on exemplary MAR case studies later in 2019. The workshop was attended by representatives of 11 of 26 identified case studies to be covered in the publication as well as the four editors: Andrew Ross, ANU/NCGRT; Yan Zheng, SUSTech; Karen Villholth, IWMI; and Peter Dillon, IAH.  Several case studies extend GRIPP’s work on Groundwater-Based Natural Infrastructure. All case studies describe the evolution of MAR projects from conception to realization and reveal the economics and sustainability of diverse MAR projects. This report will inform the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and help making groundwater more visible, the theme of the World Water Day in 2022.

GRIPP had a separate roundtable meeting at ISMAR10 to discuss ways to support the sustainable practice of MAR and how to increase the professional capacity and interdisciplinary networking to make this happen.

Author workshop at ISMAR10 to scope out UNESCO publication on sustainable and economic MAR practices (Photo credit: Peter Dillon, IAH)

Author workshop at ISMAR10 to scope out UNESCO publication on sustainable and economic MAR practices (Photo credit: Peter Dillon, IAH)

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