Effects of intake interruptions on dune infiltration systems in the Netherlands, their quantification and mitigation

Pieter J. Stuyfzand*, Martin L. van der Schans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In the coastal dunes of the Western Netherlands, managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is applied for drinking water supply since 1957. The MAR systems belong to the Aquifer Transfer Recovery (ATR) type, because recharge and recovery are operated without interruption. This makes these systems very vulnerable to intake interruptions, which are expected to increase in frequency and duration due to climate change. Such interruptions are problematic, because: (i) groundwater recovery from dunes needs to continue to supply fresh drinking water to the Western Netherlands; (ii) risks of salt water intrusion are high, and (iii) MAR bordering wet dune slacks with an EU Natura 2000 status cannot survive for long without MAR. In this paper, effects of intake stops are discussed and quantified. The hydrological effects consist of the decline of water tables, disappearance of flow-through dune lakes, reservoir depletion, salt water intrusion, disruption of rainwater lenses, and entrapped air hampering a rapid refill of the groundwater reservoir. Water quality effects include changes in (i) redox environment of the flushed aquifer, impacting the behavior of nutrients, calcium, sulfate and organic micro-pollutants, and (ii) the mixing ratio of water types. The main ecological impacts comprise the dying of organisms in recharge ponds and dune lakes, and a decline of biodiversity. Effects of very long intake interruptions (years) are predicted via historical observations during the long overexploitation period (1900–1957) prior to MAR. A closed form analytical solution for safe yield of a semiconfined aquifer is proposed, together with a related upconing risk index. Both also apply to the pumping from any fresh water lens without MAR. Some mitigation strategies are discussed, such as a dual intake, raising the storage capacity, earlier mud removal, and accelerated refilling of the reservoir. A magnitude scale for intake stops (MIS) is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-773
Number of pages17
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2018


  • Bridging period
  • Flow-through lake
  • Freshwater lens
  • Managed aquifer recharge
  • Salt water intrusion
  • Water quality


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