IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A not-so-paradoxical groundwater rise in semi-arid environments

Paul Baudron1,2, Christian Leduc1, Ahmed Salem Mohamed3, Aziez Zeddouri4, Samia Hadj-Said4, Marc Leblanc5, Fethi Lachaal6, Sarah Tweed1, and José Luis García Aróstegui7,8
Paul Baudron et al.
  • 1Institut pour la Recherche et le Développement, UMR 183 G-EAU, Montpellier, France
  • 2Departement des génies civil, géologique et des mines, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada
  • 3Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique de Nouakchott, Mauritanie
  • 4Laboratoire des Réservoirs Souterrains: Pétroliers, Gaziers et Aquifères, Université Kasdi Merbah - Ouargla, Algérie
  • 5Département Hydro-Géologie, Université d'Avignon, UMR 1114 EMMAH, Avignon, France
  • 6CERTE, Water Researches and Technologies Center, Soliman, Tunisie
  • 7Departamento de Ecología e Hidrología, Universidad de Murcia, Espagne
  • 8Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, Murcia, Espagne

Semi-arid areas are usually associated with decreasing water levels due to groundwater overexploitation, that threatens the sustainability of the water resource and causes negative environmental impacts. More surprisingly, semi-arid areas also host situations of long-term rising groundwater levels, due to anthropization. Changes in land use and land cover, surface application of groundwater pumped from deeper aquifers, inflow of external resources or insufficient sanitation may generate a significant rise in groundwater levels. Consequences on the local water balance may be not less dramatic than those of overexploitation, as rising groundwater tables compromise i) medium term agriculture, via waterlogging and salinization of soils, ii) urban development, via the saturation of drainage systems and water networks and iii) the environment, via the increase in groundwater discharges towards low-topography areas or surface water masses. Qualitative consequences include the death of crops by hypoxia, the increase of water diseases, or the eutrophication of surface water masses. Illustrated by lessons learnt from Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Australia and Spain, this paper proposes a typology of contexts and associated consequences. It also illustrates implemented or proposed remediation actions, acting from the causes (land-use restrictions, implementation of drip irrigation, enhancement of sewage networks) to the effects (green belt around cities, drainage of agricultural plots for downstream or more remote rejection, groundwater abstraction at regional scale for further treatment). In a wider scale, this paper highlights a less visible but crucial aspect of the need to anticipate anthropogenic and climatic impacts on groundwater evolution at several timescales

How to cite: Baudron, P., Leduc, C., Mohamed, A. S., Zeddouri, A., Hadj-Said, S., Leblanc, M., Lachaal, F., Tweed, S., and García Aróstegui, J. L.: A not-so-paradoxical groundwater rise in semi-arid environments, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-486, https://doi.org/10.5194/iahs2022-486, 2022.