Smart framework for real-time monitoring and control of subsurface processes in managed aquifer recharge applications

Project Coordinator:


Catalin Stefan:

Institutions: INOWAS Research Group, Department of Hydrosciences, Technische Universität Dresden

Country: Germany


The main objective of the SMART-Control project is to reduce the risks in the application of sustainable groundwater management techniques worldwide through the development and implementation of an innovative web-based, real-time monitoring and control system (RMCS) in combination with risk assessment and management tools (RAM). Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) represents an efficient water reuse technique to restore groundwater-dependent ecosystem services. Despite its wide benefits, the contribution of MAR to safe water supply at global scale is still limited. The reasons include lack of data on MAR technological costs, hydrogeological site-specific characteristics, the associated risks with operational challenges and the lack of national regulations. The lack of detailed and up-to-date monitoring data hinders the reliable setup and calibration of numerical models for risk assessment in nature-based systems such as MAR facilities. The implementation of RMCS will not only enable the assessment and management of risks at MAR sites but also decrease the uncertainties in numerical models. The SMART-Control framework consists of a cloud-based monitoring and modelling framework for real-time, web-based groundwater management where time series data collected from sensor networks installed at selected MAR sites will be remotely transferred and automatically fed into real-time simulation-optimization algorithms. The proposed system will include three main components: 1) in-situ real-time monitoring system consisting of sensors installed on-site coupled with pre-processing algorithms; 2) web-based modelling and monitoring platform including automated optimization and control algorithms, model update tool to incorporate real-time data into numerical flow and transport models and a prediction tool to involve climate change and water demand scenarios and 3) a set of RAM tools to evaluate MAR-associated risks. This smart innovative framework for MAR (SMART-Control) will allow for real-time control and risk assessment of MAR facilities at any stage of development so that implementation, management and operational capabilities are improved. In addition, the development of risk assessment guidelines for the application of MAR ensures that the implementation of the solution is supported by a legal framework. The approach will be tested at six MAR sites (pilot to full-scale) in Germany, France, Brazil and Cyprus. Each case study represents a different MAR setting in terms of infiltration method, boundary conditions, objectives, quality and quantity of recharged and recovered water, operational scheme, as well as technical and ecological constraints. The variety of case studies ensures that the SMART-Control framework can be applied to various environmental and operational conditions to promote and improve the integrated water resources management techniques. The approach will thus bring real-time evidence that despite MAR is a nature-based solution, risks associated with the implementation and operation can be managed and controlled and demonstrates that it is a safe and reliable technique for integrated water resources management.The international consortium consists of nine full partners comprised of four universities, three research institutes and two companies. Additionally, associated partners involving water works, water managers and stakeholders in the participating countries support the project and benefit directly from the project outcomes. 


Funders of the project:

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF);

French National Research Agency (ANR);

Paraíba Research Foundation (FAPESQ);

Pernambuco Research Foundation (FACEPE);

Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (RPF)