Despite Sri Lanka’s rich history of water capture and reuse since 414 BC, technological advances and social changes after the 1970s has seen water supply become insufficient to meet the demand. Shortages of water impact all groundwater uses, from irrigation to potable supply.
Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is a proven technology that stores water in aquifers for reuse. This project, undertaken on behalf of Australian Water Partnerships and funded by DFAT, responds to a request by the Water Resources Board of Sri Lanka (WRB) to identify the preferred locations that might be considered for a MAR trial to prove the application of MAR technology in Sri Lanka.
The methodology to gather sufficient information for a trial began with a national level review of shortage, source water and hydrogeology followed by more detailed reviews in the preferred locations. In partnership with local organisations, the national review identified an abundance of source water and the presence of aquifers of various quality in all ten of the Districts with a shortage, however, the three Districts with the greatest water shortage was identified by the WRB as Puttalam, Moneragala and Vavuniya. Water Technology matched data from source water availability and the presence of suitable aquifers with a MAR technology that could be supported by a future scheme operator. Local partners provided a national stakeholder analysis to assist with this process. Suitable aquifers were characterised by sufficient storage and permeability identified from studies, field investigations and remote sensing.
Analysis of the findings presents estimates of water volumes and qualities that could be provided by a MAR scheme to meet the demand. This includes estimates of the costs for delivery of a trial MAR scheme, the key uncertainties and suggestions for successful management. Positive results from a trial are anticipated to enable wide-scale adoption of the MAR technology in Sri Lanka to address a range of water shortages.