GEARS - Geologically Engineered Aquifer Recharging System

Natural aquifers, essential underground repositories of water-bearing rock or sediment, both store and transmit groundwater. They serve as vital sources of fresh water for drinking, irrigation, and industrial purposes. The Geologically Engineered Aquifer Recharging System – GEARS, is a technology which involves excavating pits in the ground to artificially replenish and effectively manage aquifers, optimizing their water storage capacity.

Applications: Natural aquifers can differ significantly in size and depth and play a crucial role in the Earth's hydrological cycle. The capacity of aquifers to store water depends on inherent geological characteristics of the subsurface, as well as external factors such as climate. In regions where geological conditions are not naturally conducive to the formation of aquifers, researchers have been investigating techniques to artificially recharge aquifers, often extending to depths of up to 500 meters. This approach involves the use of diverse natural materials to enhance water retention within the aquifer pit and implement effective management strategies.

How is it different from the rainwater harvesting system? Currently, established rainwater harvesting systems in certain regions mainly promote shallow water infiltration, primarily benefiting open wells or artificial ponds. This results in restrictions on water availability, confined to specific seasons and proves unsustainable during extended dry periods. In such scenarios, traditional open well recharging methods are inadequate.

It is advisable to adopt deep subsurface aquifer recharge techniques, such as GEARS, to overcome these limitations and establish a more resilient water supply. These methods involve deliberate recharging of aquifer or vadose zones, combined with efficient management practices. One noteworthy advantage of this technology is that it can be specifically tailored to suit the characteristics of the terrain. A thorough assessment of the subsurface allows for the selection of spots suitable for potential recharge and identification based on the geological condition of the terrain. This approach mitigates risks like subsidence and landslides. The primary aim remains to facilitate water infiltration to greater depths in the ground, thereby increasing the longevity and dependability of water resources, even during prolonged drought conditions, such as those following El Nino events.

Example: Project Tulah in Kerala, India has adopted the GEARS approach, demonstrating its commitment to transforming the dry lateritic subsurface environment into water-bearing zones, typically around 60 meters deep. At the Tulah site, geologists and engineers from Geo-Transect, a company specializing in GEARS technology, take a meticulous approach. They fill the drill holes with permeable and filtering media to prevent direct infiltration to the subsurface, effectively minimizing the weathering of the laterite. To prevent silt accumulation and turbulence, the rainwater is first collected in tanks before being pumped into designated pits. By replenishing the deep subsurface with water, Project Tulah strives to establish a sustainable water source for borewells and other essential uses within the region.

Fig. 1 Subsurface assessment                 Fig. 2 GEARS at Tulah Site               Fig. 3 Prof. Dr. B. Longhinos with GEARS model

Contact details: Company – Geo-Transect LLP Er. Jishma R. Jayan (Director)                          
Phone – (+91) 94967 98727 || Email – director@tgeo.co.in

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