Renewable groundwater

The majority of the MENA region's accessible renewable groundwater aquifers are located in the region's extensive coastal plains. Human settlement has been supported by coastal aquifers for millennia along the coasts of northern Africa and the eastern Mediterranean as well as in the Gulf. As populations rose and groundwater levels fell, through excessive use, all these coastal aquifers have been subject to sea water intrusion. The second half of the 20th century witnessed progressive subsurface seawater intrusions of more than 20 km, e.g. in Libya, and of even greater distances under the delta of the Nile. A feature of the groundwater management of delta Egypt is the cultivation of rice associated with high inputs of water. High levels of water use prevent or at least slow the advance of the saltwater-freshwater interface. There is evidence from Israel that coastal aquifers can be managed to avoid serious degradation by means of technology and regulation, but at present such technology and regulation have not been deployed elsewhere.

Alluvial aquifers and other aquifers exist in inland basins and in the uplands of the region - for example, east of Damascus in Syria, in the highlands of Jordan and Palestine and in the highland basins of Yemen in Sana'a, Tai'iz and Sa'adah. These renewable aquifers are without exception being used beyond their rates of recharge.

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