Groundwater Depletion: Current Trends and Future Challenges to Mitigate the Phenomenon

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 April 2024 | Viewed by 19028

Special Issue Editors

Department of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: groundwater modelling; groundwater vulnerability assessment; hydrogeochemistry; hydrogeophysics; isotope hydrology; management of aquifer recharge; water resources management; floods; climate change impacts on water resources
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, 81100 Caserta, Italy
Interests: water resources management and protection in the coastal plains, with a focus on water and nitrogen balance at basin scale and salinization processes; characterization and monitoring of dissolved contaminants in aquifers via different assessment methods; implementation of density-dependent groundwater flow models and reactive transport models
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
EMMAH, INRAE, Avignon Université, 84916 Avignon, France
Interests: hydrogeology; Hydrogeophysics; groundwater resources exploration; hydrosystems sedimentary formations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Groundwater is a primary source of drinking water for almost two billion people worldwide. Moreover, it is critically important for energy, food security, human health, and ecosystems. Yet, depletion of groundwater reserves is a common phenomenon in both humid and semi-arid regions of the world. The phenomenon of groundwater depletion (GD) occurs when extraction from an aquifer exceeds the recharge, with the extent of the depletion effects also being determined by the aquifer type and its socioeconomic framework. Inevitably, depletion leads to increased distributed water costs, water-related conflicts, and up- and downstream ecosystem decline as aquifer’s degradation (i.e. groundwater flow alteration, seawater intrusion). Although groundwater depletion has been documented at both regional and global scales, specific spatiotemporal characteristics need to be further studied and quantified to design and apply strategies allowing us to mitigate the phenomenon. The aim of this Special Issue is to highlight the emergence of a) adequate integrated strategies to mitigate GD at both regional and local scales through b) advanced spatiotemporal monitoring allowing quantification of the factors triggering/accelerating GD.

The Guest Editors’ ambition for this Special Issue is to encompass articles dealing with:

  • Efficiency/Adequacy of global and regional strategies.
  • Scale effect: from global scale to regional and aquifer scale.
  • Spatiotemporal distribution of groundwater depletion.
  • The role of snow variability in groundwater depletion.
  • The importance of temporal (from seasonal to high frequency monitoring) and spatial scales.
  • Managed/Artificial aquifer recharge for mitigate groundwater depletion.
  • Groundwater modelling impact and adequacy to study groundwater depletion.
  • Integrated strategies for groundwater quantity and quality protection.
  • Linking protection zone delineation of springs/wells with groundwater depletion.
  • Impacts of groundwater depletion in groundwater quality.
  • The role of the critical zone in groundwater depletion.
  • The role of mis-management in groundwater depletion.
  • The role of climate change/variability in groundwater depletion.

Link With Projects and Conference

The Special Issue is linked with both an international conference and a research project:

a) "Groundwater depletion. Are Eco-friendly Energy Recharge Dams a solution?" founded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “Second Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Post-Doctoral Researchers” (https://groundwater-ecodams.web.auth.gr/), which started in February 2021 and ends August 2023;

b) The 12th International Hydrogeological Conference organized by the Association of Geologists and Mining Engineers of Cyprus in collaboration with the Hellenic Committee of Hydrogeology (https://www.hydrogeologyconference2022.com.cy/en/) on 20–22 of March 2022, in Nicosia (Lefkosia), Cyprus.

Dr. Nerantzis Kazakis
Dr. Micol Mastrocicco
Dr. Konstantinos Chalikakis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • groundwater simulation
  • satellite observation
  • climate change/variability
  • groundwater overexploitation
  • groundwater quality
  • protection zone delineation of springs/wells
  • policy and sustainability
  • extreme hydrological events

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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16 pages, 15175 KiB  
Article
Recharge Assessment in Greek Karst Systems: Methodological Considerations and Implications
Water 2024, 16(4), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16040568 - 14 Feb 2024
Viewed by 658
Abstract
The recharge of karst aquifers is significant for the effective management of groundwater resources, and its estimation should be tailored to accommodate their specific hydrogeological characteristics. This study provides a two-step methodological approach for the determination of karst aquifer recharge. Initially, mean annual [...] Read more.
The recharge of karst aquifers is significant for the effective management of groundwater resources, and its estimation should be tailored to accommodate their specific hydrogeological characteristics. This study provides a two-step methodological approach for the determination of karst aquifer recharge. Initially, mean annual recharge rates were estimated in the karst system of Ziria (Southern Greece) utilizing the APLIS and modified APLIS methods in order to decipher which was the most suitable version for recharge assessments. The results indicated similar mean recharge rate values at 42.7% and 41.4%, respectively, but significant differences in the spatial distribution. The modified methodology emerged as a more accurate and realistic approach, mainly due to the incorporation of permeability assessments. The final phase of the methodological approach involved the application of modified APLIS in two additional karst hydrosystems, Planitero and Xiromero, while a quantitative cross-comparison of the recharge rates was obtained for a deeper understanding of the factors controlling the groundwater recharge process. In Ziria, recharge rates exhibit a relatively uniform distribution throughout the area, with a median value of 46.7%. Conversely, in Planitero, High recharge rates (60–80%) occupy 56.8% of the surface, while in Xiromero, Moderate recharge rates (40–60%) dominate, representing 53.4% of the land coverage. These variations underscore the spatial heterogeneity of recharge within the karst systems, highlighting the importance of considering local geological and hydrological conditions in its assessments. The methodological approach of this study is flexible and can be adapted to different karst sites for the determination of recharge regimes, contributing to the alleviation of the groundwater depletion issue. Full article
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17 pages, 5256 KiB  
Article
Nature-Based Solutions for the Restoration of Groundwater Level and Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems in a Typical Inland Region in China
Water 2024, 16(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16010033 - 21 Dec 2023
Viewed by 651
Abstract
The rapid drop in groundwater level and the degradation of groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) has led to serious imbalances in the development of the socio-ecological system (SES) in Minqin Oasis, northwest China. In this study, the interactions between the elements of the SES were [...] Read more.
The rapid drop in groundwater level and the degradation of groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) has led to serious imbalances in the development of the socio-ecological system (SES) in Minqin Oasis, northwest China. In this study, the interactions between the elements of the SES were analyzed, and the effects of the implementation of nature-based solutions (NbS) and the resilience of the SES were assessed using the methods of linear trend analysis, correlation, and fuzzy comprehensive evaluation. The results showed that: (i) the most important contributing factor to the increase in groundwater depth (GLD) and the degradation of GDEs was the continuous groundwater extraction for the irrigation of farmland; and (ii) the natural vegetation began to be degraded when the GLD surpassed 5 m; (iii) the initial goal of NbS was achieved, the increase in GLD has been curbed, and the vegetation and the wetland area of Qingtu lake have begun to be restored. The SES resilience index increased by a factor of 1.82 from 2009 to 2017; however, it was still below 0.6, and thus the NbS should be continued in the future. This study provides a reference for the sustainable development of the SES in other similar areas under various environmental challenges. Full article
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20 pages, 16091 KiB  
Article
Water Quality Evaluation of Groundwater and Dam Reservoir Water: Application of the Water Quality Index to Study Sites in Greece
Water 2023, 15(23), 4170; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15234170 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1945
Abstract
To detect the degradation of clean water, it is necessary to characterize its quality through water quality indices using seasonal water sampling and analysis. In the present study, the initialization of the monitoring by surface and dam water sampling was conducted in multiple [...] Read more.
To detect the degradation of clean water, it is necessary to characterize its quality through water quality indices using seasonal water sampling and analysis. In the present study, the initialization of the monitoring by surface and dam water sampling was conducted in multiple areas of Greece, including the Eastern Thermaikos Gulf, Mouriki, and Marathonas basins, during both the dry and wet periods of 2022. The dam reservoirs were also monitored by capturing their orthomosaic mapping. The classification of the samples according to the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment Water Quality Index (CCME WQI) showed that all dam water samples examined and Mouriki area samples have excellent water quality in terms of physical and chemical characteristics. However, some samples from the Eastern Thermaikos Gulf and Marathonas basins suffer from seawater intrusion, which is indicated by the high concentration levels of Na+ and Cl, and anthropogenic activities shown by the elevated concentrations of NO3. Moreover, the high concentration of As in samples from the Eastern Thermaikos Gulf is attributed to geothermal fluids. The importance of Cl, NO3, and As presence in water quality at the studied areas is also verified by the sensitivity analysis performed, pointing out the requirement of sustainable management. Full article
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19 pages, 15966 KiB  
Article
Application of Judgmental Sampling Approach for the Monitoring of Groundwater Quality and Quantity Evolution in Mediterranean Catchments
Water 2023, 15(22), 4018; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15224018 - 20 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1265
Abstract
Groundwater monitoring is critically important, even though it is costly and often neglected. In this study, a judgmental monitoring of groundwater offering solutions based on a cost and time-effective research approach is presented. The method was performed in three Mediterranean areas in Greece [...] Read more.
Groundwater monitoring is critically important, even though it is costly and often neglected. In this study, a judgmental monitoring of groundwater offering solutions based on a cost and time-effective research approach is presented. The method was performed in three Mediterranean areas in Greece and Italy to examine its advantages and disadvantages. As a first step, a multi-statistical analysis was practiced to assess and apportion the potential contributions of pollution sources of groundwater. Pearson correlation, principal component analysis, and factor analysis were applied to groundwater samples to characterize the evolution of hydrochemical processes. High concentrations of chlorides and nitrates highlight that salinization and the extensive use of nitrate fertilizers dominate in the coastal part of Eastern Thermaikos Gulf, the dissolution of carbonate rocks and livestock/industrial activities drive the groundwater quality status in the Upper Volturno basin, while in the Mouriki basin thermal power plant and the use of zinc fertilizers are the main factors of groundwater quality degradation. The determination of the critical sampling points was applied, considering the land use and hydrogeological and morphological characteristics of the areas. The application of the judgmental sampling approach provides reliable results regarding groundwater evolution. These results were compared to previous works and found that a non-probability sampling technique can provide the same results as a more costly method in the Mediterranean region. Thus, judgmental sampling is crucial for the optimal application of water resource management and control techniques in basins to avoid gaps in data collection. Full article
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32 pages, 11543 KiB  
Article
A Participatory Approach to Exploring Nexus Challenges: A Case Study on the Pinios River Basin, Greece
Water 2023, 15(22), 3949; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15223949 - 13 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1063
Abstract
The conservation of natural resources is indispensable for supporting sustainable development. Water–Energy–Food–Ecosystem (WEFE) nexus management is widely acknowledged as the utmost priority of our time. Considering the specificities of the different nexus sectors, conflicting views of sustainability may arise from different stakeholders. This [...] Read more.
The conservation of natural resources is indispensable for supporting sustainable development. Water–Energy–Food–Ecosystem (WEFE) nexus management is widely acknowledged as the utmost priority of our time. Considering the specificities of the different nexus sectors, conflicting views of sustainability may arise from different stakeholders. This paper presents and analyses an effective stakeholders’ participation strategy aiming at identifying WEFE challenges in the Pinios River Basin (PRB), the most agriculturally productive and natural resource-stressed basin of Greece. The presented methodology was developed in the context of a Learning and Action Alliance (LAA) scheme adopted by the H2020 REXUS project, intended to support resilient nexus system management with the engagement of stakeholders. The proposed comprehensive methodology comprises multiple phases, including “framing”, “mapping”, “involvement”, “co-production”, and “sharing” phases. The involvement phase is the most interactive one, including the organisation and outputs of efficient crowdsourcing theme sessions organised in the framework of the first REXUS PRB stakeholders’ workshop. This paper illustrates and analyses stakeholders’ perceptions regarding nexus status in the PRB and reveals the most critical challenges in the pilot basin, along with their interdependencies and correlations. The determination of nexus challenges insights by stakeholders could significantly contribute to redefining policies so that they align with sustainable development aims. This methodology is proposed to form the baseline strategy in stakeholders’ engagement for future nexus management studies. Full article
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16 pages, 11377 KiB  
Article
Hydrogeological Hazards in Open Pit Coal Mines–Investigating Triggering Mechanisms by Validating the European Ground Motion Service Product with Ground Truth Data
Water 2023, 15(8), 1474; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15081474 - 10 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1454
Abstract
This research focuses on the investigation of hydrogeological hazards in open pit coal mines. The study area is the Amyntaio sub-basin area, located in West Macedonia prefecture, Greece. A major part of the SE of this area is occupied by the Amyntaio open [...] Read more.
This research focuses on the investigation of hydrogeological hazards in open pit coal mines. The study area is the Amyntaio sub-basin area, located in West Macedonia prefecture, Greece. A major part of the SE of this area is occupied by the Amyntaio open pit coal mine. In recent decades, the Amyntaio basin’s aquifer has been overexploited both by dewatering wells of the open pit coal mine and irrigation wells, triggering extensive land subsidence in an area that extends 3 km around the mine. Additionally, one of the biggest mining landslides worldwide occurred on the South-West slopes of the open pit on 10 June 2017. The current study investigates the land subsidence phenomenon and the landslide, highlighting the influence and the interaction of their causal factors which were strongly affected by the groundwater management. To estimate ground surface movement, Earth Observation data from the European Ground Motion Service, of the Copernicus European Union′s Earth observation program, were used for the period 1 January 2016–31 December 2020. The geologic, geotechnical and hydrogeologic data coming from the extensive ground truth survey have been incorporated with the Earth Observation data, highlighting the opposing mechanisms of the interacting geohazards. Full article
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26 pages, 10461 KiB  
Article
Repurposing of a Closed Surface Coal Mine with Respect to Pit Lake Development
Water 2022, 14(21), 3558; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14213558 - 05 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2138
Abstract
In the coal phase-out era, achieving sustainable mine closure is significant and prioritizes targets for the mining industry. In this study, the already closed lignite mine of Kardia, North Greece, is investigated, where the mine void left is naturally filled with water. The [...] Read more.
In the coal phase-out era, achieving sustainable mine closure is significant and prioritizes targets for the mining industry. In this study, the already closed lignite mine of Kardia, North Greece, is investigated, where the mine void left is naturally filled with water. The viability of different repurposing land uses is evaluated, and the natural water level development inside the mine pit is investigated concerning its future uses. The potential for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels developed on mining land and its surrounding area is evaluated in combination with the application of pumped hydro storage (PHS) technology, utilizing pit lake water. Except for electricity system planning, other end-uses that offer multiple, mutually reinforcing and lasting benefits are investigated, such as recreation parks, terrestrial wildlife, aquaculture and agriculture. All repurposing scenarios are evaluated with regard to the spatiotemporal evolution of the lake, by generating forecasts of the dependent variables (rainfall and temperature) via linear (autoregressive integrated moving average) and non-linear (artificial neural network) models. The prediction of pit lake natural development redefines the new land use layout and the land repurposing decisions. This is essential for strategic planning, considering the Greek lignite mining industry’s priority regarding transitioning from the current coal-based electricity to renewable energy sources (RES) technology. Full article
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20 pages, 5314 KiB  
Article
Spatiotemporal Analysis of Groundwater Storage Changes, Controlling Factors, and Management Options over the Transboundary Indus Basin
Water 2022, 14(20), 3254; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14203254 - 15 Oct 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1887
Abstract
Intensive groundwater abstraction has augmented socio-economic development worldwide but threatens the sustainability of groundwater resources. Spatiotemporal analysis of groundwater storage changes is a prerequisite to sustainable water resource management over river basins. To estimate the groundwater storage changes/anomalies (GWCs) in the Indus River [...] Read more.
Intensive groundwater abstraction has augmented socio-economic development worldwide but threatens the sustainability of groundwater resources. Spatiotemporal analysis of groundwater storage changes is a prerequisite to sustainable water resource management over river basins. To estimate the groundwater storage changes/anomalies (GWCs) in the Indus River Basin (IRB), where observation wells are sparse, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, the Global Land Data Assimilation System, and the WaterGAP Hydrological Model data were employed. The groundwater storage changes and controlling factors were investigated at three tier levels (TTLs), i.e., the basin, river reach, and region, to explore their implications on regional water resource management and provide management options at each level. Overall, the IRB groundwater declined from January 2003 to December 2016, with a relatively higher rate during 2003–2009 than during 2010–2016. Spatially, according to a reach-specific analysis, 24%, 14%, and 2% of the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the IRB, respectively, were indicated by a ‘severe groundwater decline’ over the entire period (i.e., 2003–2016). The GRACE-based GWCs were validated with in situ data of two heterogeneous regions, i.e., Kabul River Basin (KRB) and Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC). The analysis showed a correlation (R2) of 0.77 for LBDC and 0.29 for KRB. This study’s results reveal that climatic variations (increase in evapotranspiration); anthropogenic activities, i.e., pumping for irrigation; and water allocations in these regions mainly drive the groundwater storage changes across the Indus Basin. Full article
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17 pages, 3199 KiB  
Article
Impact of Boundary Conditions Dynamics on Groundwater Budget in the Campania Region (Italy)
Water 2022, 14(16), 2462; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14162462 - 09 Aug 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1817
Abstract
Groundwater budgets and fluxes are affected by human activities and climate change. Numerical models are cost-effective tools to investigate the different components of the hydrologic cycle. In this study, a groundwater flow model of the unconfined aquifers of the Campania region (Italy) has [...] Read more.
Groundwater budgets and fluxes are affected by human activities and climate change. Numerical models are cost-effective tools to investigate the different components of the hydrologic cycle. In this study, a groundwater flow model of the unconfined aquifers of the Campania region (Italy) has been developed and calibrated in Processing Modflow 11, resulting in an accurate assessment of groundwater fluxes and their trends over fifteen years (2000–2015). The model was implemented using a high-resolution grid to capture small hydrogeological features such as wells and rivers and informed by time variable datasets used as boundary conditions (i.e., river and sea levels, aquifer recharge, evapotranspiration, and discharge from adjacent systems). Good calibration and validation performances were achieved for piezometric heads (R2 = 0.958). A set of scenarios was developed using constant boundary conditions (i.e., constant sea-level BC, uniform extinction depth BC), and the outputs were compared, quantitively assessing differences in groundwater fluxes. Simulations pointed out that using time series to inform boundary conditions in the model does not always result in a significant change in the computed fluxes. Overall, non-uniform extinction depth was the most influential condition, while both rivers and sea level conditions barely affected groundwater budgets. In addition, results highlighted the need for an accurate estimation of spatiotemporal variations of both recharge and evapotranspiration, due to their strong seasonal variability and their massive contribution to the hydrogeological cycle. Finally, a marked increase of evapotranspiration fluxes controlled by interannual variability of precipitation and atmospheric temperatures has been quantified over the modelled period. Full article
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26 pages, 14044 KiB  
Article
Hybrid Fuzzy Multi-Criteria Analysis for Selecting Discrete Preferable Groundwater Recharge Sites
Water 2022, 14(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14010107 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1835
Abstract
This study proposes a hybrid fuzzy multi-criteria methodology for the selection of the most preferable site for applying managed aquifer recharge (MAR) systems by utilizing floodwaters. The use of MAR can increase water resources for later water utilization in case of drought. In [...] Read more.
This study proposes a hybrid fuzzy multi-criteria methodology for the selection of the most preferable site for applying managed aquifer recharge (MAR) systems by utilizing floodwaters. The use of MAR can increase water resources for later water utilization in case of drought. In this multi-criteria problem, seven recharge sites are under consideration, based on nine criteria, aiming to make a final list of their relative ranking. A fuzzy analytic hierarchy process (FAHP) based on the logarithmic fuzzy preference programming (LFFP) method is used to determine the weights of criteria. LFFP is an optimization-based method that produces a priority vector from a fuzzy pairwise comparison matrix. Furthermore, fuzzy inference systems (FIS) based on the Mamdani approach are used to estimate the rating of each alternative with respect to the criterion examined, and then the final evaluation of the alternatives is obtained. A FIS is a fuzzy if–then rule-based system where the experts’ qualitative knowledge is translated into numerical reasoning for each individual criterion. The proposed methodology is applied in the aquifer system of the agricultural plain located to the southeast of the city of Xanthi in the Prefecture of Xanthi, NE Greece. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 5484 KiB  
Review
Optimization of Dam Operation and Interaction with Groundwater: An Overview Focusing on Greece
Water 2023, 15(21), 3852; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15213852 - 04 Nov 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2239
Abstract
The optimization of dam operations to transform them into multi-objective facilities constitutes a challenge for both hydrology, hydrogeology, and hydropower generation. However, the use of the optimal algorithm for such transformation is critically important. Additionally, the literature has highlighted that dams might negatively [...] Read more.
The optimization of dam operations to transform them into multi-objective facilities constitutes a challenge for both hydrology, hydrogeology, and hydropower generation. However, the use of the optimal algorithm for such transformation is critically important. Additionally, the literature has highlighted that dams might negatively influence the recharge of groundwater. Within this study, we provide an overview of the available algorithms for the optimization of dam operations. Additionally, an overview focusing on hydropower generation in Greece illustrates the high potential of the Mediterranean region for hydropower generation and the application of MAR. The water quality of the reservoirs is also highlighted as a critical parameter. Within this study, we present indices for water quality monitoring in dam reservoirs, while the most prevailing index is the SRDD. This study constitutes a guide for researchers in choosing the optimal tools for the optimization of dam operations and the water quality monitoring of reservoirs. The present study suggests a meta-heuristic optimization methodology using the harmony search algorithm. The model uses a geometric model of the reservoir and calculates the level–supply curve. Furthermore, a multi-criteria optimization model was developed with two objective functions: the maximum power output from the hydroelectric power plant turbines and the optimal groundwater recharge. The model with appropriate parameter modifications can be applied to any small dam as it is a decision- and policy-making methodology, independent of local conditions. A further step is the application of these approaches dealing with field data and the numerical modeling of case studies. The interdisciplinary approach of this study links deferent aspect and scientific perceptions, providing a comprehensive guide to optimal water resource management and environmental sustainability. Full article
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