O. Lopez, G. Stenchikov, T.M. Missimer
Environmental Research Letters, volume 9, number 7, (2014)
Climate change, Aquifer storage and recovery, Wadi hydrology, Wadi dams, Dune fields
An average of less than 50 mm yr−1 of rainfall occurs in the hyperarid region of central Western Saudi Arabia. Climate change is projected to create greater variation in rainfall accumulation with more intense rainfall and flood events and longer duration droughts. To manage climate change and variability in ephemeral stream basins, dams are being constructed across wadi channels to capture stormwater, but a large percentage of this stored water is lost to evaporation. A dam/reservoir system located in Wadi Al Murwani in Western Saudi Arabia was recently constructed and is expected to contain a maximum stored water volume of 150 million m3. A hydrologic assessment of a dunefield lying 45 km downstream was conducted to evaluate its potential use for aquifer storage and recovery of the reservoir water. A 110 m elevation difference between the base of the dam and the upper level of the dunefield occurs, allowing conveyance of the water from the reservoir to the dunefield storage site by gravity feed without pumping, making the recharge system extremely energy efficient. Aquifer storage and recovery coupled with dams would allow water management during extreme droughts and climate change and has widespread potential application in arid regions.