There are water crises in many parts of the world due to the combined effects of groundwater depletion and deterioration of groundwater quality. One third of the world’s large aquifers are severely dewatered without prospects for recovery over decades or even centuries if all pumping were to stop now. The pumping of fossil groundwater is supporting large populations in dry climates. More severe droughts than those of the past few decades are coming, exacerbated by climate change. Most depletion of aquifers is done in support of irrigated agriculture on an industrial scale, with groundwater that is both pumped from wells and diverted from stream baseflow supporting 70 percent of global agriculture.

The depletion of aquifers has become so excessive that the water from their depletion runs off into the oceans to contribute 25 percent of recent sea level rise. Excessive runoff is enhanced by the cutting of forests and the deterioration of soil health. The only option for reversing this trajectory towards disaster is to reduce the amount of freshwater that escapes to the oceans. For this, the most readily implementable approach is to use engineering to increase the amount of rainfall that recharges groundwater reservoirs so that less escapes to the oceans. This is now widely known as ‘managed aquifer recharge’ (MAR) or ‘artificial recharge” (AR). MAR is not new, it has been practiced in a few countries for more than 70 years, but has had a strong upswing in diversity and sophistication of techniques in the past two decades. However, relative to the benefits that can accrue from MAR and the magnitude of groundwater depletion, MAR is woefully underutilized on the global scale. Recharge can be increased by changing the vegetation and rejuvenating the soil, but these generally require a long period of time. Now, there is sufficient technical understanding of MAR to quickly implement it in areas with the political will.

This book is authored by two South African groundwater scientists. South Africa has the most experience with MAR because there are dozens of substantial MAR applications in diverse hydrologic and geologic conditions ranging from unconsolidated aquifers in semi-arid climates to fractured rocks in desert climates. South Africa is a leader in MAR as a result of more than 50 years of research and practice supported by farsighted government funding. This book is the one of many Groundwater Project books in a planned series of books about MAR in specific countries or regions.

The two authors of this book, Drs. Eberhard Braune and Sumaya Israel, are currently faculty members at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa and have been long standing participants in research concerning MAR and related topics including natural recharge, water resources management and groundwater geochemistry. They bring a holistic perspective to MAR as illustrated by the content of this book.

John Cherry, The Groundwater Project Leader
Guelph, Ontario, Canada,
July 2021


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