Increasing a freshwater lens below a creek ridge using a controlled artificial recharge and drainage system: a case study in the Netherlands

Pauw, P.S.; Baaren, Esther S. van; Visser, Martijn; Louw, Perry G.B. de; Oude Essink, Gualbert H.P.


A controlled artificial recharge and drainage (CARD) system was used to increase freshwater lenses below creek ridges to increase freshwater supply. Creek ridges are typical geomorphological features that lie up to 2 m higher than the surroundings in the reclaimed tidal flat landscape of the southwestern Netherlands. The 5–30-m thick freshwater lenses below the creek ridges are a vital source for irrigation, as the groundwater and surface waters are predominantly saline. However, freshwater supply from these lenses is commonly not sufficient to meet the irrigation demand, which leads to crop damage. The CARD system was tested in the field and the development of the freshwater lens was monitored during the period May 2013 to May 2014. Numerical models, which were used to investigate a long-term effect of the CARD system, predicted that below the center of the creek ridge, the 13–15-m thick freshwater lens increased 6–8 m within 10 years. The total volumetric increase of the freshwater lens was about 190,000 m3 after 10 years, which was about 40 % of the total recharge (natural and artificial recharge). From this increased freshwater lens, up to three times more water can be extracted using horizontal wells, compared to the initial size of the freshwater lens. A higher water table in the CARD system leads to a thicker freshwater lens but a lower storage efficiency. A lower water table has the opposite effect.