Desalinated Seawater in a Regional Urban Water Cycle, Israel

Kloppmann W, Negev I, Guttman J, Goren O, Gavrieli I, Guerrot C, Flehoc C, Pettenati M, Burg A. Massive arrival of desalinated seawater in a regional urban water cycle: A multi-isotope study (B, S, O, H). The Science of the total environment. 2017 Nov 14;619-620:272-280. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.181.

“Man-made” or unconventional freshwater, like desalinated seawater or reclaimed effluents, is increasingly introduced into regional water cycles in arid or semi-arid countries. We show that the breakthrough of reverse osmosis-derived freshwater in the largely engineered water cycle of the greater Tel Aviv region (Dan Region) has profoundly changed previous isotope fingerprints. This new component can be traced throughout the system, from the drinking water supply, through sewage, treated effluents, and artificially recharged groundwater at the largest Soil-Aquifer Treatment system in the Middle East (Shafdan) collecting all the Dan region sewage. The arrival of the new water type (desalinated seawater) in 2007 and its predominance since 2010 constitutes an unplanned, large-scale, long-term tracer test and the monitoring of the breakthrough of desalination-specific fingerprints in the aquifer system of Shafdan allowed to get new insights on the water and solute flow and behavior in engineered groundwater systems. Our approach provides an investigation tool for the urban water cycle, allowing estimating the contribution of diverse freshwater sources, and an environmental tracing method for better constraining the long-term behavior and confinement of aquifer systems with managed recharge.

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