9.1 Some Experience with MAR Success Factors

Overall, there has been very limited implementation of MAR in South Africa and in the wider region of Southern Africa. However, implementation experience indicates a generally good track record with the technical issues required for successful MAR implementation. This success can be measured against a set of success criteria developed in 2007 as shown on Table 13 (Murray, 2007). The relevance of these success factors was illustrated in the various case studies.

Table 13 – Ten questions to consider to ensure successful implementation of MAR, (Murray, 2007).

Aspect of MAR Questions to consider
1. Need for artificial recharge scheme Is artificial recharge really necessary – could you not increase your groundwater yield by expanding the wellfield or by managing the existing wellfield better?
2. Source water What volume of water is available for recharge, and when is it available?
3. Aquifer hydraulics Will the aquifer receive and hold the water in storage?
4. Water quality Is the quality of the source water suitable for artificial recharge?
5. Engineering issues How will the water be treated and transferred into the aquifer?
6. Environmental issues What are the potential environmental benefits, risks and constraints?
7. Legal and regulatory issues What type of authorization is required?
8. Economics How much will the scheme cost, and what is the cost of supplied water per m³?
9. Management and technical capacity Are the skills available to operate the scheme?
10. Institutional arrangements Who will be responsible for supplying the source water and ensuring its quality is suitable? Are there other users of the aquifer? Who will regulate use of the scheme?

Technical Issues Required for a Successful MAR Implementation

  • Motivation: The need to make a detailed case for artificial recharge is crucial. Implementation involves costly infrastructure development in a non-scientific environment and implications of the development must be fully understood. The Windhoek and Plettenberg Bay case studies illustrate this.
  • Hydrogeology: The Langebaan Road case study, which uses injection, demonstrates the importance of doing a thorough study of geology, groundwater flow, recharge and discharge. In this case, some of the injected water seeped away from the intended abstraction area and was lost in boreholes that became artesian far from the injection site, because the underlying geology had not been fully understood.
  • Water quality: All case studies illustrate the need for clarity regarding the character of the source water and in particular on the large variety of water quality issues in the source water/aquifer combination. In the Atlantis case study, the importance of evaluating water quality at production wells in terms of clogging brought on by inherent properties of water and geology was highlighted. A case study of pilot implementation in Calvinia in the Northern Cape led to the discovery of arsenic containing minerals in the breccia, emphasizing the importance of considering source water-groundwater mixing as well as water-rock interactions.
  • Capacity: Most cases illustrate the importance of determining the additional technical capacity required to successfully undertake MAR. A case study of water storage in sand dams in the Northern Cape found that scheme failure was a result of an inadequate technical capacity of the municipality. The Plettenberg Bay case study and the situation in neighboring Sedgefield illustrate lack of planning for MAR because of lack of technical capacity. The Langebaan Road case emphasizes the importance of involvement of all stakeholders – and more importantly, buy-in and ownership by stakeholders – and demonstrates how these were successfully engaged.


Managed Aquifer Recharge: Southern Africa Copyright © 2021 by Eberhard Braune and Sumaya Israel. All Rights Reserved.