Outlining the Case for an Artificial Groundwater Recharge System –
Climate change, and its effects, is a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored, especially in the Caribbean region. Climate change has been having negative effects on Jamaica’s water resources, making it very challenging for the country to meet all its water needs. In the last four years, Jamaica has experienced drought of a severity that has been unseen for decades. Therefore, the country’s public water utility provider, the National Water Commission, with financial assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency, developed a project that is aimed at alleviating the effects of drought through replenishing and sustaining the groundwater potential in the country’s metropolitan area.
This project comprised the development of an artificial groundwater recharge system and satisfies the classic purposes for pursuing aquifer recharge viz.; increasing the bank of useable groundwater for continued and improved abstraction; improving and increasing the buffer zone between freshwater/saltwater so that current production rates can be sustained; and providing storage for unused surface water in a regime that minimizes the effects of evaporation.
The design of the system considered key issues such as native groundwater quality, aquifer storage capacity, location and quality of source water, treatment options, possibility of groundwater quality derogation, clogging of aquifer, etc. One of the major challenges to this project was to develop a recharge and abstraction scheme that maximizes the recovery of recharge water. For this reason, detailed investigations were carried out to identify a suitable aquifer and a suitable water source, as well as to assess the recharge rates, abstraction rates, and available storage capacity. To ensure that the recharge water would not contaminate the native groundwater, the design included a treatment facility consisting of primary and secondary treatment systems. Furthermore, an extensive water quality monitoring exercise was carried out on the source to obtain a baseline for monitoring the performance of the scheme during operation, which commenced in March 2016.