A new artificial recharge approach using direct push wells for aquifer storage and recovery in near-surface aquifers: A case study in the Lower Republican River basin, Kansas
Monday, 15 December 2014
Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is the artificial recharge and temporary storage of water in an aquifer when water is abundant, and recovery of all or a portion of that water when it is needed. In recent years, interest in ASR has increased due to various concerns such as declining groundwater resources, vulnerability of surface water supplies to contamination and reservoir sedimentation, and unfavorable projections of future climate change. In this study, we evaluate a new recharge method for ASR in near-surface unconsolidated aquifers using small-diameter, low-cost wells installed with direct-push (DP) technology. The effectiveness of a DP well for ASR was compared with a surface infiltration basin at a field site in the Lower Republic River basin, north-central Kansas. Initial DP-based characterization of the shallow, unconsolidated subsurface indicates that both the vadose and saturated zones have many low permeability silt and clay layers constraining vertical flow. The performance of the surface basin as a recharge approach was poor at the test site due to the presence of a continuous clay layer at a depth of 1.5 to 3 m, which prevented the downward movement of infiltrated water and significantly reduced the recharge capacity of the basin. The DP well, on the other hand, penetrated through this clay layer and was able to recharge water at a much higher rate without use of a pump (water moved by gravity alone). Most importantly, the costs of the DP well, including both the construction and land costs, were only a small fraction of those for the infiltration basin. The low cost of DP wells can significantly expand the applicability of ASR as a water resources management tool to regions with limited resources, such as many small municipalities and rural communities. Our field results have clearly demonstrated the great potential of DP wells as a new recharge option for ASR projects in near-surface unconsolidated aquifers.