Groundwater recharge dams in arid areas as tools for aquifer replenishment and mitigating seawater intrusion: Example of AlKhod, Oman

Osman A E Abdalla, Abdullah S. Al-Rawahi

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Groundwater depletion and seawater intrusion constitute major challenges along coastal aquifers in arid areas. This paper assesses the role of groundwater recharge dams constructed to replenish aquifers and fight seawater intrusion with reference to AlKhod dam, Oman, sited 7 km from the coast on a gravely unconfined aquifer. Water table rise in piezometers located downstream from the dam shows regular patterns correlating with magnitude of wadi flow, whereas upstream piezometers show irregular patterns. Controlled release of water captured by the dam optimizes water percolation and enhances artificial recharge which was estimated in the wet years 1997, 2003 and 2005 as 15, 22 and 27 Mm3, respectively, using water table fluctuation method. Recharge contributed 40-60 % of the total annual abstraction. Groundwater salinity increased in the 1980s and 1990s and the saline/freshwater interface advanced inland, but has receded partially after 1997 (highest rainfall) and completely after 2005 indicated by reduction in electrical conductivity and thickening of freshwater lens. The recession is attributed to the dam's induced recharge and reduction of pumping in 2004 following the commissioning of Barka desalination plant. Integrating artificial recharge with groundwater resources management is therefore an effective measure to replenish aquifers in arid areas and mitigate seawater intrusion along the coasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1951-1962
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013



  • Arid areas
  • Oman
  • Recharge dam
  • Seawater intrusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Soil Science

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