Delta-MAR: Governance and hydrogeological prerequisites for sustainable water supply through MAR systems in urbanizing deltas, applied to Bangladesh


Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) has an enormous potential for sustainable water provision in poor, delta communities. A unique opportunity arises in Bangladesh to evaluate MAR performance in saline aquifers. In 2012, a public-private consortium including UNICEF built twenty pilot MAR systems in the Khulna District. In 2014, the number of pilot systems is scheduled to grow to 100. The current systems show successes and failures, indicating knowledge gaps related to design, operation, water quality, governance, and business development.

The project?s objective is to address these knowledge gaps by determining financial, institutional, environmental, technical, and social prerequisites for the successful regional-scale, self-propelling, and sustainable implementation of MAR systems in urbanizing, saline deltas. The project aims to train 4 PhD students, generate new knowledge, develop capacity among a variety of stakeholders, and disseminate lessons-learned, both regionally and globally.

Our approach is to:

- Determine hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical prerequisites for successful MAR application through evaluation of the performance of the existing 20 and planned 80 MAR systems, and by building and evaluating 4 dedicated research sites equipped with innovative sensors. The research sites will be simulated with state-of-the-art groundwater flow and reactive transport models. Simple screening models will be developed, which will allow for a priori evaluation of expected MAR performance at a specific location based on few, easily measured quantities.

- Analyze MAR governance by identifying success and fail factors from existing experience with Pond Sand Filters to purify water, and experience with existing pilot MAR sites. Network analysis will be used to assess interactions between public and private partners. The present Technological Innovation System will be evaluated for its potential in the regional diffusion of MAR, and business cases for self-propelling regional MAR implementation will be developed.

- Use a Geographic Information System to map locations with varying degrees of (potential) MAR success for the Bangladesh saline delta and for similar deltas worldwide. Relevant steering parameters will be derived from the hydrogeological, hydrogeochemical, and governance studies. Detailed research transects will be constructed to obtain insight in local scale hydrogeological/hydrogeochemical heterogeneity and effects of human influences (settlements, ponds, extractions).

The project consortium includes four universities, a government agency, NGOs, and a consulting company.
The successful completion of the project will result in a governance plan and guidelines for application of MAR systems in saline deltas, worldwide, which will contribute to a sustainable and save drinking water supply for many poor delta communities.


Publicatie bedoeld voor een breed publiek

  • F. van Laerhoven(2013): Inception Workshop report pp. 1 - 3
  • F. Naus(2017): Geohydrologisch onderzoek in een land vol water pp. 16 - 17 ISSN: issn 1876-231x.
  • F. van Laerhoven(2017): DeltaMAR website



W 07.69.107


Dr. F.S.J. van Laerhoven

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geowetenschappen, Department of Sustainable Development


Dr. K.M. Ahmed, Prof. dr. ir. M. Bakker, Dr. B.M. van Breukelen, K. Groen, M.B. Hasan MSc, M.I. Hasan MSc, Dr. F.S.J. van Laerhoven, Dr. S. Majumder, F. Naus MSc, M.R. Rafiq, Dr. P.P. Schot, Ir. A. Tuinhof


01/01/2015 tot 31/12/2019