Managed Aquifer Recharge

More and more pressure is being placed on our nation’s groundwater resources—for drinking, agriculture, etc.—and in many cases the demand is outweighing the rate in which it is recharged. In some cases, aquifer recharge is dependent on farmers over-irrigating their crops, placing the burden of recharge on inefficient practices and methods. Managed aquifer recharge is a key component to groundwater management and necessary to ensure our groundwater resources remain a reliable source of water for generations to come. Unfortunately, capital and infrastructure limitations remain as hurdles to properly recharge our nation’s aquifers. 

Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is the purposeful recharge of water to aquifers for subsequent recovery or for environmental benefit. MAR is one of the tools used by water managers, large pumpers, developers, and others to provide water supply resiliency, helping balance out the seasonal and periodic decreases in water availability with increasing demands. We have gotten very good at pumping the water out of our underground reservoirs, or aquifers. And, now, MAR, which is a well-developed groundwater technology, has become increasingly important to enhance our abilities to increase recharge for water security.

MAR comes in different forms from large-scale capital projects involving hundreds of acres of infiltration ponds…to wellfields of aquifer storage and recovery wells…to flooding permanent crops seasonally…to low-impact development including permeable pavement, raingardens, rooftop rainfall capture and recharge, and slow-it-spread-it-sink-it landscaping techniques.

NGWA supports increasing MAR safely and cost-effectively, and has developed a multicomponent initiative outlined here to highlight MAR as an important groundwater technology and provide useful information to the industry and well owners.

Email your representative and ask them to support smart managed aquifer recharge legislation.

MAR Work Group

The MAR Work Group is an NGWA Government Affairs Committee-initiated work group that was started in February 2020.

MAR special publications

Managed Aquifer Recharge: Overview and Governance

Managed Aquifer Recharge: Overview and Governance special publication

View the special publication Managed Aquifer Recharge: Overview and Governance published by the International Association of Hydrogeologists in conjunction with UNESCO IHP and NGWA.

It is divided into three sections consisting of:

  • An overview of purposes, types, source waters, advantages, challenges, and essential requirements of MAR
  • An international synthesis of policy innovations to harness and encourage MAR in water resources management for sustainability in both developing and advanced jurisdictions
  • An overview of water quality management strategies for health and environmental protection in MAR from a variety of starting positions and capabilities.

NGWA Director of Science and Technology Bill Alley, Ph.D., is one of the publication’s four editors.

Groundwater special issue

Groundwater September-October 2022The September-October 2022 edition of Groundwater® is a special edition devoted to MAR. This edition contains nine Case Study Papers from the United States and international locales, two Review Papers covering geophysics and low-impact development, and three Issue Papers on planning, regulatory considerations, and project economics.

Click here to read more about this issue of Groundwater, a special project of NGWA’s MAR Work Group.

MAR-related news

Questions about NGWA MAR activities?

If you have questions about NGWA activities related to MAR, please send them with the subject line “MAR Question” to