Low-Cost Aquifer Storage and Recovery: Implications for Improving Drinking Water Access for Rural Communities in Coastal Bangladesh

Sultana, S.; Ahmed, K. M.; Mahtab-Ul-Alam, S. M.; Hasan, M.; Tuinhof, A.; Ghosh, S. K.; Rahman, M. S.; Zheng, Yan; Ravenscroft, P.

Fresh water resources are scarce in rural communities in the southern deltaic plains of Bangladesh where both shallow and deep groundwater is frequently brackish, and fresh water ponds have been increasingly salinized by inundation during storm surges and brackish-water aquaculture. Low-cost aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) schemes were constructed at 13 villages in three coastal districts by developing storage in shallow confined fine to medium sand aquifers overlain by variable thicknesses of silt and clay. A typical ASR scheme consisted of a double-chambered graded sand filtration tank with a volume of 19.5  m3 that feeds filtered pond water to four to six large diameter (d=30.5 or 56 cm) infiltration wells through PVC pipes fitted with stop valves and flow meters. The infiltration wells were completed at 18–31 m below ground and filled with well-sorted gravel capped with a thin layer of fine sand that acts as a second stage filter. Infiltration rates at 13 sites averaged 3  m3/day (range: 3–6  m3/day) over one year of operation. At 11 sites where water was abstracted, the recovery rate ranged from 5 to 40%. The source pond source water frequently had turbidity values of ≥100  NTU. After sand filtration, the turbidity is typically 5 NTU. Despite this, clogging management involving frequent (monthly to weekly) manual washing to remove fine materials deposited in the sand filtration tank and the infiltration wells is found to be necessary and effective, with post-manual-washing operational infiltration rates restored to annual average values. E. coli counts in recovered water are greatly reduced compared to raw pond water, although E. coli is still detected in about half of the samples. Arsenic in recovered water was detected to be at level of > 100  μg/L repeatedly at three sites, suggesting that As risks must be carefully managed and require further investigation.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Sultanaetal2015_JHE_MAR_Community_BD.pdf Sultanaetal2015_JHE_MAR_Community_BD.pdf application/pdf 7.74 MB Download File

Also Published In

Journal of Hydrologic Engineering

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
American Society of Civil Engineers
Published Here
October 1, 2015