Author(s): Zuurbier, K., Kooiman, J.W., Groen, M., Maas, B., & Stuyfzand, P.
Enabling Successful Aquifer Storage and Recovery of Freshwater Using Horizontal Directional Drilled Wells in Coastal Aquifers
Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) of freshwater surpluses can reduce freshwater shortages in coastal areas during periods of prolonged droughts. However, ASR is troublesome in saline coastal aquifers as buoyancy effects generally cause a significant loss of injected freshwater. The use of a pair of parallel, superimposed horizontal wells is proposed to combine shallow ASR with deep interception of underlying saltwater. A shallow, fresh groundwater lens can thereby be enlarged and protected. This freshmaker setup was successfully placed in a coastal aquifer in The Netherlands using horizontal directional drilling to install 70-m-long horizontal directional drilled wells (HDDWs). The freshmaker prototype aims to inject a specific volume of freshwater and abstract the same volume of water (consisting of injected water and ambient native groundwater) within the targeted water quality. Groundwater transport modeling preceding ASR operation demonstrates that this set up is able to abstract a water volume of 4,200m3 equal to the injected freshwater volume without exceeding strict salinity limits, which would be unattainable with conventional ASR. This is the first study to demonstrate the potential benefits of HDDWs for a field ASR application. The model outcomes indicate that the feasibility perspectives of ASR in coastal aquifers worldwide require revision thanks to recent developments in hydrologic engineering.
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