Enhancement of Groundwater Recharge from Wadi Al Bih Dam, UAE

Ahmed Sefelnasr, Abdel Azim Ebraheem, Muhammad Abrar Faiz, Xiaogang Shi, Khaled Alghafli, Faisal Baig, Muhammad Al-Rashed, Dalal Alshamsi, Munaver Basheer Ahamed, Mohsen Sherif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Groundwater and harvested rainwater represent the only conventional freshwater resources in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Groundwater resources in Wadi Al Bih, UAE, are sustainable due to the low exploitation rate for domestic and agricultural purposes. Thus, the groundwater depletion in this area is far less than in other parts of the country. The Wadi Al Bih area is very important for achieving water security in UAE. Therefore, the possible measures of increasing groundwater recharge (e.g., managed aquifer recharge (MAR) methods) are investigated in this paper. The available water resource data were collected, reviewed, validated, and stored in a GIS database. Then, a GIS-based water budget model (WBM) was developed to evaluate the available groundwater resources in Wadi Al Bih and recharge sources. The analyses showed that only 49% of the accumulated rainwater behind the dam is recharging the underlying aquifer. Due to the absence of any direct recharge techniques, the remaining 51% is lost by direct evaporation (15%), and as soil moisture increases in the unsaturated zone (36%), it will subsequently evaporate or percolate depending on the precipitation pattern and air temperature. The results of the WBM indicated that the freshwater resources were decreasing at an alarming rate of approximately thirty-five million cubic meters (MCM) per year until 2019. The groundwater storage and salinity were governed by the rates and patterns of precipitation. For example, the recharge resulting from the two consecutive maximum monthly precipitation events in December 2019 and January 2020 has significantly increased the fresh groundwater reserve and slightly retreated the saline/brackish water toward the shoreline. Moreover, a Mann–Kendall trend analysis was conducted to assess the influence of precipitation, temperature, and evaporation on groundwater recharge. The outcomes suggested that climate variables had a significant effect on groundwater supplies. The mitigation measures include revising groundwater withdrawal rates based on the annual recharge and enhancing recharge using different MAR techniques and dam operation plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3448
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • United Arab Emirates
  • Wadi Al Bih
  • climate change
  • climate change impact
  • groundwater storage and recharge
  • water budget model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biochemistry


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