Saturating the Desert: The Management of Rising Groundwater Levels in the Eastern Alluvium Aquifer of Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia

Historically the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has faced challenges with water resources to meet its needs. In order to meet the increasing demand for water the authorities have resorted to the heavy exploitation of the deep aquifers in the area and importation of desalinated water from the coastal region of the Kingdom. The introduction of these significant water quantities have subsequently resulted in the introduction of large quantities of recharge to the shallow subsurface aquifer as a result of leakage from the domestic water conveyance and drainage systems, direct infiltration from traditional in-situ water treatment systems (soak away pits) and irrigation activities. An unexpected effect of this development has been the rising water levels under the city which poses serious hazards to infrastructure, property and human health. This calls for the need to develop a groundwater lowering solution for that area. To address this, a groundwater model has been developed to simulate the flow dynamics within the Eastern Alluvium under these conditions, to predict the impact of the continuous future expansion of urbanization on groundwater levels and to develop solution to control and manage the rising water table.

Professor Gamal Abdo is the head Director of the Water Research Centre at the University of Khartoum. His main research interests are groundwater management, water harvesting and management of artificial groundwater recharge, flood forecasting and early warning, water supply and sanitation and transboundary water management. He has contributed to many national projects in Sudan and is currently involved in studies on the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on various sectors in Sudan including river aquifer interaction in the Blue Nile Basin, reservoir operation, hydropower generation and flood irrigation. He has a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Birmingham, and MSc from University College Galway, Ireland and BSc from the University of Khartoum.