To meet increasing urban water requirements in a sustainable way, there is a need to diversify future sources of supply and storage. However, to date, there has been a lag in the uptake of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) for diversifying water sources in urban areas. This study draws on examples of the use of MAR as an approach to support sustainable urban water management. Recharged water may be sourced from a variety of sources and in urban centers, MAR provides a means to recycle underutilized urban storm water and treated wastewater to maximize their water resource potential and to minimize any detrimental effects associated with their disposal. The number, diversity and scale of urban MAR projects is growing internationally due to water shortages, fewer available dam sites, high evaporative losses from surface storages, and lower costs compared with alternatives where the conditions are favorable, including water treatment. Water quality improvements during aquifer storage are increasingly being documented at demonstration sites and more recently, full-scale operational urban schemes. This growing body of knowledge allows more confidence in understanding the potential role of aquifers in water treatment for regulators. In urban areas, confined aquifers provide better protection for waters recharged via wells to supplement potable water supplies. However, unconfined aquifers may generally be used for nonpotable purposes to substitute for municipal water supplies and, in some cases, provide adequate protection for recovery as potable water. The barriers to MAR adoption as part of sustainable urban water management include lack of awareness of recent developments and a lack of transparency in costs, but most importantly the often fragmented nature of urban water resources and environmental management.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited