Aquifer storage and recovery

Last updated

Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is the direct injection of surface water supplies such as potable water, reclaimed water (i.e. rainwater), or river water into an aquifer for later recovery and use. The injection and extraction is often done by means of a well. In areas where the rainwater cannot percolate the soil or where it is not capable of percolating it fast enough (i.e. urban areas) and where the rainwater is thus diverted to rivers, rainwater ASR could help to keep the rainwater within an area. ASR is used for municipal, industrial and agricultural purposes.


ASR use in the United States


The first ASR well with a downhole control valve was installed in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, in 1992 for Centennial Water and Sanitation District. [1] Since then, over 40 ASR wells have been installed for many different municipalities. These wells range in depths from 1,000 ft (300 m) to 3,000 ft (910 m) below ground surface, with injection rates commonly between 100 US gal (380 l; 83 imp gal) and 500 US gal (1,900 l; 420 imp gal) per minute (gpm) per well.


The use of ASR in Florida has been examined to determine potential benefits for the Everglades and other Floridian water systems under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). An estimate of 333 ASR wells would be implemented as part of CERP and used to store, treat and supply excess surface water to the Everglades and other systems of water during dry periods. [2] [3]


Doubts remain about the benefit of introducing ASR in such large capacity to Florida due to a predominantly karst geography. Current or potential problems include: (1) poor recovery due to mixing of the injected fresh water with the existing brackish to saline water in the aquifer; (2) pre-existing quality of water introduced to ASR; and (3) potential risk of resulting water quality due to mixing of injected freshwater and existing aquifer. [4]


The first agriculture ASR wells were put into service in Oregon in the autumn of 2006 and have injected well over 3,000 acre feet (3,700,000 m3) of water during the winter and spring flood flow times using artificial recharge (AR) of flood water as their water source. This shallow recharged water is then recovered as potable water and injected into the deep basalt aquifer.

During the injection process, electrical energy can be generated by the head pressure of the water flowing back into the aquifer. This stored water is recovered during late summer and early autumn for irrigation needs.

Both of these well types use a down-hole control valve. ASR can also be used to re-inject water used by HVAC systems to maintain the ground water levels and store the thermal differences from summertime cooling for winter time heating. Industry can also capture cold winter waters and store it for summertime use and avoid the need for cooling water in the summer for industrial processes. This may also free up short supplies of summer time water for other beneficial uses. This reinjection process may also avoid the cost of surface disposal and avoid the increased thermal load to the rivers and streams during the summer air conditioning season. [5]


The Texan cities of El Paso, Kerrville and San Antonio use ASR, providing water resources to these water-vulnerable communities. [6] A University of Florida report ranked daily per-capita water availability for 225 large urban areas across the U.S. [7] The study weighed fresh water available to cities from naturally occurring and constructed sources such as reservoirs, aquifers and imports. Of the cities reviewed, San Antonio ranked last, or most vulnerable, and El Paso ranked as 10th-worst, though other Texas cities made the list. [6]

San Antonio stores drinking water in its Carrizo ASR facility, which contains more than 91,000 acre-feet of water and has a maximum capacity of 120,000 acre-feet. [6]

A 2010 Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) survey of Texas water utilities found four primary objections to ASR in other parts of Texas: legal and physical limitations, the quality of the recovered water, cost-effectiveness and the potential for other pumpers to capture the utility's stored water. [6]

ASR use in Australia

Newly constructed wetland for final stage treatment of urban stormwater runoff for an ASR scheme in western Adelaide, South Australia Cooke Reserve wetland.JPG
Newly constructed wetland for final stage treatment of urban stormwater runoff for an ASR scheme in western Adelaide, South Australia

In South Australia, the City of Salisbury in northern Adelaide has since 1994 played a pioneering role in establishing the viability of the capture and treatment of urban stormwater runoff within artificial wetlands, and injecting the treated water into Tertiary aquifers in winter, for later use by industry, and for irrigation of city parks and school playing fields in summer. [9] In 2009 the capacity of the Salisbury ASR schemes was around 5 gigalitres per annum (expected to rise to 14 GL by 2014) [10] and this success has led to other local government areas across Adelaide undertaking similar ASR projects.

ASR use in Europe

In Spain, the SubSol ASR project is active [11] and in the Netherlands, there is the COASTAR project. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Aquifer Underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock

An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials. Groundwater can be extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology. Related terms include aquitard, which is a bed of low permeability along an aquifer, and aquiclude, which is a solid, impermeable area underlying or overlying an aquifer. If the impermeable area overlies the aquifer, pressure could cause it to become a confined aquifer.

Everglades wetlands area in Florida, US

The Everglades is a natural region of tropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large drainage basin within the neotropic ecozone. The ecosystem it forms is not presently found anywhere else on earth. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles (97 km) wide and over 100 miles (160 km) long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades experience a wide range of weather patterns, from frequent flooding in the wet season to drought in the dry season. The Seminole Tribe gave the large body of water the name Okeechobee meaning "River of Grass" to describe the sawgrass marshes, part of a complex system of interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, the estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and the marine environment of Florida Bay. Throughout the 20th century, the Everglades suffered significant loss of habitat and environmental degradation.

Ogallala Aquifer Shallow Aquifer

The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table aquifer surrounded by sand, silt, clay, and gravel located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world's largest aquifers, it underlies an area of approximately 174,000 sq mi (450,000 km2) in portions of eight states. It was named in 1898 by geologist N. H. Darton from its type locality near the town of Ogallala, Nebraska. The aquifer is part of the High Plains Aquifer System, and rests on the Ogallala Formation, which is the principal geologic unit underlying 80% of the High Plains.

Everglades National Park One-and-a-half million acres in Florida (US) managed by the National Park Service

Everglades National Park is an American national park that protects the southern twenty percent of the original Everglades in Florida. The park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River. An average of one million people visit the park each year. Everglades is the third-largest national park in the contiguous United States after Death Valley and Yellowstone. UNESCO declared the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve in 1976, and listed the park as a World Heritage Site in 1979, while the Ramsar Convention included the park on its list of Wetlands of International Importance in 1987. Everglades is one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.

Groundwater Water located beneath the ground surface

Groundwater is the water present beneath Earth's surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock become completely saturated with water is called the water table. Groundwater is recharged from the surface; it may discharge from the surface naturally at springs and seeps, and can form oases or wetlands. Groundwater is also often withdrawn for agricultural, municipal, and industrial use by constructing and operating extraction wells. The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater is hydrogeology, also called groundwater hydrology.

Rainwater harvesting Accumulation of rainwater for reuse

Rainwater harvesting is a type of harvest in which the rain drops are collected and stored for the future use, rather than allowing it to run off. Rainwater can be collected from rivers or roofs and redirected to a deep pit, aquifer, a reservoir with percolation, or collected from dew or fog with nets or other tools. Its uses include water for gardens, livestock, irrigation, domestic use with proper treatment, indoor heating for houses, etc. The harvested water can also be used as drinking water, longer-term storage, and for other purposes such as groundwater recharge.

Edwards Aquifer

The Edwards Aquifer is one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world. Located on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas, it is the source of drinking water for two million people, and is the primary water supply for agriculture and industry in the aquifer's region. In addition, the Edwards Aquifer feeds the Comal and San Marcos springs, provides springflow for recreational and downstream uses in the Nueces, San Antonio, Guadalupe, and San Marcos river basins, and is home to several unique and endangered species.

Biscayne Aquifer

The Biscayne Aquifer, named after Biscayne Bay, is a surficial aquifer. It is a shallow layer of highly permeable limestone under a portion of South Florida. The area it underlies includes Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, and Palm Beach County, a total of about 4,000 square miles (10,000 km2).

Enhanced oil recovery, also called tertiary recovery, is the extraction of crude oil from an oil field that cannot be extracted otherwise. EOR can extract 30% to 60% or more of a reservoir's oil, compared to 20% to 40% using primary and secondary recovery. According to the US Department of Energy, there are three primary techniques for EOR: thermal, gas injection, and chemical injection. More advanced, speculative EOR techniques are sometimes called quaternary recovery.

Sustainable drainage system

Sustainable drainage systems are a collection of water management practices that aim to align modern drainage systems with natural water processes. SuDS efforts make urban drainage systems more compatible with components of the natural water cycle such as storm surge overflows, soil percolation, and bio-filtration. These efforts hope to mitigate the effect human development has had or may have on the natural water cycle, particularly surface runoff and water pollution trends. SuDS have become popular in recent decades as our understanding of how urban development affects natural environments, as well as concern for climate change and sustainability, have increased. SuDS often use built components that mimic natural features in order to integrate urban drainage systems into the natural drainage systems or a site as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Groundwater recharge groundwater that recharges an aquifer

Groundwater recharge or deep drainage or deep percolation is a hydrologic process, where water moves downward from surface water to groundwater. Recharge is the primary method through which water enters an aquifer. This process usually occurs in the vadose zone below plant roots and, is often expressed as a flux to the water table surface. Groundwater recharge also encompasses water moving away from the water table farther into the saturated zone. Recharge occurs both naturally and through anthropogenic processes, where rainwater and or reclaimed water is routed to the subsurface.

Extraction of petroleum removal of petroleum from the earth

The extraction of petroleum is the process by which usable petroleum is drawn out from beneath the earth's surface location.

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is the plan enacted by the U.S. Congress for the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem in southern Florida.

An injection well is a device that places fluid deep underground into porous rock formations, such as sandstone or limestone, or into or below the shallow soil layer. The fluid may be water, wastewater, brine, or water mixed with chemicals.

Restoration of the Everglades

The restoration of the Everglades is an ongoing effort to remedy damage inflicted on the environment of southern Florida during the 20th century. It is the most expensive and comprehensive environmental repair attempt in history. The degradation of the Everglades became an issue in the United States in the early 1970s after a proposal to construct an airport in the Big Cypress Swamp. Studies indicated the airport would have destroyed the ecosystem in South Florida and Everglades National Park. After decades of destructive practices, both state and federal agencies are looking for ways to balance the needs of the natural environment in South Florida with urban and agricultural centers that have recently and rapidly grown in and near the Everglades.

Stormwater harvesting or stormwater reuse is the collection, accumulation, treatment or purification, and storing of stormwater for its eventual reuse. It differs from rainwater harvesting as the runoff is collected from drains or creeks, rather than roofs. It can also include other catchment areas from man made surfaces, such as roads, or other urban environments such as parks, gardens and playing fields.

The Green Swamp is a swamp in Florida. It lies west of Highway 27 and east of Interstate 75 in Polk, Lake, Sumter, Hernando and Pasco Counties. The headwaters of the Peace River, Withlacoochee River, Ocklawaha River, and Hillsborough River are located here.

Water storage every type of water storage, drinkable or not

Water storage is a broad term referring to storage of both potable water for consumption, and non potable water for use in agriculture. In both developing countries and some developed countries found in tropical climates, there is a need to store potable drinking water during the dry season. In agriculture water storage, water is stored for later use in natural water sources, such as groundwater aquifers, soil water, natural wetlands, and small artificial ponds, tanks and reservoirs behind major dams. Storing water invites a host of potential issues regardless of that waters intended purpose, including contamination through organic and inorganic means.

Groundwater banking is a water management mechanism designed to increase water supply reliability. Groundwater can be created by using dewatered aquifer space to store water during the years when there is abundant rainfall. It can then be pumped and used during years that do not have a surplus of water. People can manage the use of groundwater to benefit society through the purchasing and selling of these groundwater rights. The surface water should be used first, and then the groundwater will be used when there is not enough surface water to meet demands. The groundwater will reduce the risk of relying on surface water and will maximize expected income. There are regulatory storage-type aquifer recovery and storage systems which when water is injected into it gives the right to withdraw the water later on. Groundwater banking has been implemented into semi-arid and arid southwestern United States because this is where there is the most need for extra water. The overall goal is to transfer water from low-value to high-value uses by bringing buyers and sellers together.

Aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) is the storage and recovery of thermal energy in the subsurface. ATES is applied to provide heating and cooling to buildings. Storage and recovery of thermal energy is achieved by extraction and injection of groundwater from aquifers using groundwater wells. Systems commonly operate in a seasonal mode. The groundwater that is extracted in summer, is used for cooling by transferring heat from the building to the groundwater by means of a heat exchanger. Subsequently, the heated groundwater is injected back into the aquifer, which creates a storage of heated groundwater. In wintertime, the flow direction is reversed such that the heated groundwater is extracted and can be used for heating. Therefore, operating an ATES system uses the subsurface as a temporal storage to buffer seasonal variations in heating and cooling demand. When replacing traditional fossil fuel dependent heating and cooling systems, ATES can serve as a cost-effective technology to reduce the primary energy consumption of a building and the associated CO2 emissions.


  1. "Baski Flow Control Valves, ASR Valves". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  2. "Aquifer Storage and Recovery". South Florida Water Management District.
  3. "Aquifer Storage and Recovery Regional Study" (PDF). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  4. "Review of Aquifer Storage and Recovery in the Floridan Aquifer System of Southern Florida". U.S. Geological Survey.
  5. Kent Madison (2008). "Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)". 3R Valve. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved 2/11/14.
  7. Water availability ranking for 225 urban areas in the United States. Environmental Hydrology Laboratory at the University of Florida. Retrieved 2/11/14.
  8. City of Charles Sturt > Major Projects > Water Proofing the West Accessed 23 March 2014.
  9. City of Salisbury > Environment > Wetlands and Water Archived March 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 22 March 2014.
  10. Haines, S. (2009): Towards Water Sensitive Cities City of Salisbury. Accessed 22 March 2014.
  11. SubSol