Shallow wells, shafts and pits infiltration

The infiltration through shallow wells, shafts or pits is usually practiced to recharge a phreatic aquifer where spreading methods cannot be applied because of the existence of a low permeability surface layers. Often abandoned wells or pits are used that had previously fallen dry. The water fed into the structure will slowly replenish the aquifer. It is a cost effective method because recharge is governed by gravity flow only.

Typical system capacity scale Village – Town (≈104 m3/year – ≈106m3/year).
Geology  Unconfined aquifers composed of unconsolidated rocks where a surface low permeability layer is present.
Topography Flat terrains may be associated with lower erosion and less clogging by sediments.
Soils  Not relevant for this kind of technology.
Water source River water, lake water, treated wastewater, storm water.
Pre-treatment Water treatment is recommended to prevent clogging and to comply with local groundwater regulations.
MAR main objective Recover groundwater levels.
Relative cost Low-Medium (existing infrastructure may be used to reduce costs).

Advantages and disadvantages of the system (adapted from IGRAC, 2007):


  • Existing facilities may be used to reduce costs of building new infrastructure.
  • In the case of shallow wells, water recovery through the same structure reduces clogging.


  • High water quality demands of source water.

Case studies


  • IGRAC. (2007). Artificial Recharge of Groundwater in the World.
  • DEMEAU. (2014). Characterization of European managed aquifer recharge (MAR) sites – Analysis.