Commenced in January 2007
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Impact of Water Storage Structures on Groundwater Recharge in Jeloula Basin, Central Tunisia

Authors: I. Farid, K. Zouari

Abstract:

An attempt has been made to examine the effect of water storage structures on groundwater recharge in a semi-arid agroclimatic setting in Jeloula Basin (Central Tunisia). In this area, surface water in rivers is seasonal, and therefore groundwater is the perennial source of water supply for domestic and agricultural purposes. Three pumped storage water power plants (PSWPP) have been built to increase the overall water availability in the basin and support agricultural livelihoods of rural smallholders. The scale and geographical dispersion of these multiple lakes restrict the understanding of these coupled human-water systems and the identification of adequate strategies to support riparian farmers. In the present review, hydrochemistry and isotopic tools were combined to get an insight into the processes controlling mineralization and recharge conditions in the investigated aquifer system. This study showed a slight increase in the groundwater level, especially after the artificial recharge operations and a decline when the water volume moves down during drought periods. Chemical data indicate that the main sources of salinity in the waters are related to water-rock interactions. Data inferred from stable isotopes in groundwater samples indicated recharge with modern rainfall. The investigated surface water samples collected from the PSWPP are affected by a significant evaporation and reveal large seasonal variations, which could be controlled by the water volume changes in the open surface reservoirs and the meteorological conditions during evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. The geochemical information is comparable to the isotopic results and illustrates that the chemical and isotopic signatures of reservoir waters differ clearly from those of groundwaters. These data confirm that the contribution of the artificial recharge operations from the PSWPP is very limited.

Keywords: Hydrochemistry, recharge, isotopes, Jeloula basin

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