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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
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Research article 05 Jul 2018

Research article | 05 Jul 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Managed aquifer recharge with reverse-osmosis desalinated seawater: modeling the spreading in groundwater using stable water isotopes

Yonatan Ganot1,2, Ran Holtzman2, Noam Weisbrod3, Anat Bernstein3, Hagar Siebner3, Yoram Katz4, and Daniel Kurtzman1 Yonatan Ganot et al.
  • 1Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, The Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, Rishon LeZion, 7505101, Israel
  • 2Hydrology and Water Resources, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, 7610001, Israel
  • 3Department of Environmental Hydrology & Microbiology, Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, 84990 00, Israel
  • 4Mekorot, Water Company LtD, Tel Aviv, 6713402, Israel

Abstract. The spreading of reverse-osmosis desalinated seawater (DSW) in the Israeli Coastal Aquifer was studied using groundwater modeling and stable water isotopes as tracers. The DSW produced at the Hadera seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant is recharged into the aquifer through infiltration pond at the managed aquifer recharge (MAR) site of Menashe, Israel. The distinct difference in isotope composition between DSW (δ18O=+1.41; δ2H=+11.34‰) and the natural groundwater (δ18O=−4.48 to −5.43‰; δ2H=−18.41 to −22.68‰) makes the water isotopes a preferable tracer compared to widely-used chemical tracers, such as chloride. Moreover, this distinct difference can be used to simplify the system to a binary mixture of two end members: desalinated seawater and groundwater. This approach is especially robust when spatial data of stable water isotopes in the aquifer is scarce. A calibrated groundwater flow and transport model was used to predict the DSW plume distribution in the aquifer after 50 years of MAR with DSW. The results show that after 50 years 94% of the recharged DSW was recovered by the production wells at the Menashe MAR site. The presented methodology is useful for predicting the distribution of reverse-osmosis desalinated seawater in various downstream groundwater systems.

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Yonatan Ganot et al.
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Yonatan Ganot et al.
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Short summary
In the last years, surplus of desalinated seawater (DSW) are stored in the Israeli Coastal Aquifer. We monitor DSW spread in the aquifer using the difference between isotope composition of reverse-osmosis DSW and natural fresh water, which simplifies the system to 2 distinct end-members. A hydro-geological flow and transport model is used to demonstrate the robustness of this simplification, predict the future spreading of DSW in the aquifer, mixing in wells and estimating DSW recovery efficacy.
In the last years, surplus of desalinated seawater (DSW) are stored in the Israeli Coastal...