Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 605–615 | Cite as

Application of the water balance model J2000 to estimate groundwater recharge in a semi-arid environment: a case study in the Zarqa River catchment, NW-Jordan

  • Stephan SchulzEmail author
  • Christian Siebert
  • Tino Rödiger
  • Marwan M. Al-Raggad
  • Ralf Merz
Special Issue


Pollution and overexploitation of scarce groundwater resources is a serious problem in the Zarqa River catchment, Jordan. To estimate this resource’s potential, the amount and spatial distribution of groundwater recharge was calculated by applying the hydrological model J2000. The simulation period is composed of daily values gathered over a 30-year period (July 1977 to June 2007). The figure finally obtained for estimated groundwater recharge of the Zarqa River catchment is 105 × 106 m3 per year (21 mm a−1). This is 19 % higher than the value previously assumed to be correct by most Jordanian authorities. The average ratio of precipitation to groundwater recharge is 9.5 %. To directly validate modelled groundwater recharge, two independent methods were applied in spring catchments: (1) alteration of stable isotope signatures (δ18O, δ2H) between precipitation and groundwater and (2) the chloride mass balance method. Recharge rates determined by isotopic investigations are 25 % higher, and recharge rates determined by chloride mass balance are 9 % higher than the modelled results for the corresponding headwater catchments. This suggests a reasonably modelled safe yield estimation of groundwater resources.


Zarqa River Jordan Groundwater recharge J2000 model Calibration 



The authors thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for funding the SMART II project (FKZ 02-WM 801). Furthermore, this work was kindly supported by Helmholtz Impulse and Networking Fund through Helmholtz Interdisciplinary Graduate School for Environmental Research (HIGRADE) (Bissinger and Kolditz 2008). Finally, we thank E. Pohl and T. Mannschatz for valuable discussions, and M. Alqadi, S. Kraushaar and Prof. E. Salameh for help and expertise during the field work.

Supplementary material

12665_2013_2342_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 4107 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan Schulz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Siebert
    • 1
  • Tino Rödiger
    • 1
  • Marwan M. Al-Raggad
    • 2
  • Ralf Merz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department Catchment HydrologyHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZHalle/SaaleGermany
  2. 2.University of Jordan, Water, Energy and Environment Center (WEEC)AmmanJordan

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