Sustainable Water Resources Management

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 193–215 | Cite as

Characterization and benchmarking of seven managed aquifer recharge systems in south-western Europe

  • J. San-Sebastián-Sauto
  • E. Fernández-Escalante
  • R. Calero-Gil
  • T. Carvalho
  • P. Rodríguez-Escales
Original Article


The European MARSOL project includes different examples of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) facilities in the Mediterranean area. A methodical characterization of the whole recharge process has been carried out to ensure that all functions and facilities are clearly comparable independent of size, budget or location. The seven selected MAR demo sites are located in two countries. Four are in Portugal—Rio Seco and Noras (Campina de Faro Aquifer), S. Bartolomeu de Messines and Cerro do Bardo (Querença-Silves) in Algarve, and three are in Spain—Llobregat (Catalonia), Santiuste and El Carracillo (Castilla y León). The systems have been defined using a form divided into four sections, including alpha-numerical data, orthophotographs, sketches and schedules. A first draft using a bibliography was reviewed by the authors, who recorded a detailed analysis and further reports to complete the characterization, as shown in several tables. The article covers MAR benchmarking serial steps for infrastructure measurements (surfaces, lengths, facilities, costs), functions categorization (transport, infiltration, treatment, restoration) and evolution in time and space (maps, sketches and calendars). MAR measuring displays contrasting interpretations depending on scale. The benchmarking process was found to be difficult to apply to seven sites with different sizes, aims, operational procedures and time scales. However, some parameters, such as mean infiltration rate, have shown their potential as management decision tools in the long term. Mediterranean areas, characterized by water supply irregularity, which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change models, can benefit from the use of MAR as a water management technique and from its diverse functions, although these objectives have not generally been attached to recharge. Null energy cost and low initial investment can also play important roles in boosting MAR development as a feasible alternative in short-term water planning.


Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) Groundwater quality Benchmarking Mediterranean climate Water management Climate change 



This article has been developed and written within the framework of the MARSOL project (Demonstrating Managed Aquifer Recharge as a Solution to Water Scarcity and Drought FP7,, GA 119120), financed by the European Commission and Tragsa Group. The authors wish to thank Ms. Miren San-Sebastián and Mr. James Haworth who assisted in proof-reading the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Building and EngineeringTragsatecMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of R&D Integrated Water ManagementTragsaMadridSpain
  3. 3.TARH Terra, Ambiente e Recursos Hídricos, LdaSacavémPortugal
  4. 4.Hydrogeology Group (UPC-CSIC), Civil and Environmental Engineering DepartmentUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTechBarcelonaSpain

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