Fresh water can be stored underground in aquifers, but many water sources must be treated before that can happen
Growing populations worldwide have become increasingly dependent on groundwater, and human activities are now depleting aquifers — the underground formations where groundwater is stored — faster than natural systems can recharge them. This depletion can damage the environment. As empty aquifer formations collapse, land can subside, permanently crippling aquifer storage capacity. Salt water may intrude into aquifers to replace withdrawn fresh water, making the aquifer unusable for most purposes.
Removing too much water from vital aquifers ultimately is counterproductive, but with countless lives depending on groundwater, what can be done to stop the cycle of depletion and ground subsidence? One strategy is managed aquifer recharge (MAR), which reintroduces safely treated water into aquifers in a variety of ways.
Aquifer Recharge and Wastewater Treatment
Can treated wastewater be used for aquifer recharge?
One concern is nitrate contamination, which poses a serious cancer and neonatal risk for communities that rely on groundwater for their drinking water. Nitrate removal is critical for reuse purposes, especially aquifer recharge.
Fluence’s membrane aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) technology is perfectly suited for nutrient removal. MABR simultaneously removes ammonia and nitrate in a single tank and has high nutrient removal due to simultaneous nitrification and denitrification (SND). It also has exceptionally low energy requirements due to its use of passive aeration. Fluence’s MABR wastewater treatment produces effluent suitable for release into the environment, and with disinfection stages, even as drinking water.
MABR’s small footprint makes it ideal for transportation and use in remote areas. Some forms of aquifer recharge require percolation areas, where soil is permeable, but ideal percolation areas are not often conveniently located. This is where Fluence’s Aspiral™ MABR modular units shine — they’re built into shipping containers for easy shipping and installation, and their low energy requirements make off-grid energy sources practical.
Desalination and Aquifer Recharge
Other sources of water for aquifer recharge include seawater and brackish groundwater, which can be treated with desalination before use.
The hydrology of islands, in particular, can develop problems quickly when populations grow. Often, aquifer storage capacity is limited. Fluence’s energy-efficient NIROBOX™ reverse osmosis (RO) units for seawater or brackish water can make the best of available storage.
Near coastlines, aquifers are frequently vulnerable to saltwater intrusion. When seawater seeps in to fill the void left by overpumping, wells can be contaminated and economies damaged. Small-scale desalination plants as part of an aquifer recharge project can stop intrusion before it starts.
Fluence units also contain disinfection and other stages to produce high-quality effluent that meets any regulatory structure governing your aquifer recharge project. Contact Fluence, a global leader in decentralized treatment and reuse technologies, to learn more about solutions for aquifer recharge.