Potential of managed aquifer recharge in an irrigated river basin- a case study from Punjab Pakistan

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Potential of managed aquifer recharge in an irrigated river basin- a case study from Punjab Pakistan

Ghulam Zakir-Hassan 1 2, 3 * , Catherine Allan 1,3 , Jehangir F. Punthakey 3,4 , Lee Baumgartner1,3

Among threats to farming communities in the southern region of Punjab, Pakistan; are increasing groundwater depletion and monsoon floods. Our research addresses increased community resilience by considering these two phenomena together. Although the Punjab province is situated in the Indus River Basin, with mighty rivers sourced by snow and glacial melt, about half of agricultural water, and over 90% of drinking water demands are currently met from groundwater. Unregulated pumping through approximate 1.2 million private tubewells is adversely impacting the quantity and quality of groundwater and adding extra financial burden to irrigators. Most mitigation approaches focus on demand management, but in Southern Punjab the Provincial government is also experimenting with increasing the supply of groundwater via Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), using floodwater. While floods can cause extensive damage to humans and their properties, they can have numerous ecosystem benefits. In this trial flood water from Sutlej river is to be diverted into the bed of the (abandoned) old Mailsi canal, in which 144 recharge wells have been constructed. This associated PhD study is considering both biophysical and institutional aspects of the MAR trial, with some of the biophysical findings presented here. Groundwater levels data from 2010 to 2020 from 25 piezometers in the study area have been analysed. The area has been divided into 25 polygons; each polygon attributed to a piezometer. The volume of water which can be stored underground has been estimated using specific yield method. Based on preliminary studies potential of storage of flood water in the aquifer has been found 4.78 km3 during the year 2019. As the water levels are falling in the area this storage potential will increase over time. This work suggests that there is value in further pursuing research regarding MAR for increasing resilience for communities in this agricultural area.

Key Words: Groundwater, aquifer, managed aquifer recharge, Punjab, Pakistan

1. School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury 2640, NSW, Australia
2. Irrigation Research Institute (IRI), Government of the Punjab, Irrigation Department, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
3. Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), Charles Sturt University, Albury 2640, NSW, Australia
4. Ecoseal Pty Ltd, Roseville, NSW, Australia
* Correspondence author: zakirjg@gmail.com

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021
Event24th International River Symposium 2021
- Brisbane, Online, Australia
Duration: 27 Sep 202130 Sep 2021


Conference24th International River Symposium 2021
Internet address


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