Lessons from 10 years of experience with Australia's risk-based guidelines for managed aquifer recharge

Peter Dillon, Declan Page, Joanne Vanderzalm, Simon Toze, Craig Simmons, Grant Hose, Russell Martin, Karen Johnston, Simon Higginson, Ryan Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The Australian Managed Aquifer Recharge Guidelines, published in 2009, were the world's first Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) Guidelines based on risk-management principles that also underpin the World Health Organisation's Water Safety Plans. In 2015, a survey of Australian MAR project proponents, consultants and regulators revealed that in those states advancing MAR, the Guidelines were lauded for giving certainty on approval processes. They were also considered to be pragmatic to use, but there was feedback on onerous data requirements. The rate of uptake of MAR has varied widely among Australian state jurisdictions, for reasons that are not explained by the drivers for and feasibility of MAR. The states where MAR has progressed are those that have adopted the Guidelines into state regulations or policy. It was originally intended that these Guidelines would be revised after five to ten years, informed by experience of any hazards not considered in the guidelines, and by new scientific developments including advances in monitoring and control methods for risk management. As such revision has not yet occurred, this paper was prepared to give a precis of these Guidelines and review ten years of experience in their application and to identify issues and suggest improvements for consideration in their revision by Australian water regulators. This paper also discusses the factors affecting their potential international applicability, including the capabilities required for implementation, and we use India as an example for which an intermediate level water quality guideline for MAR was developed. This paper is intended to be useful information for regulators in other countries considering adopting or developing their own guidelines. Note that the purpose of these Guidelines is to protect human health and the environment. It is not a guide to how to site, design, build and operate a managed aquifer recharge project, for which there are many other sources of information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number537
Number of pages19
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • Contaminants
  • Drinking water
  • Ecosystems
  • Environment protection
  • Governance
  • Health protection
  • Recycling
  • Regulation
  • Risk
  • Safety


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