Jessica Barker

Feasibility of Aquifer Storage, Transfer and Recovery in the Coastal Areas of Bangladesh.

Coastal regions worldwide are becoming increasingly water stressed due to the effects of climate change (e.g., sea level rise, extreme events) combined with rapid population growth. Many low-lying coastal areas, including the south-western region of Bangladesh, already experience severe seasonal water scarcity. The groundwater aquifers in this coastal region are highly saline and fresh drinking water sources such as surface water ponds are continually contaminated from saltwater flooding events, cyclones and storm surges. While communities are able to use rainwater harvesting during the monsoon season, there is a critical shortage of fresh water during the 4-month dry season. As such, there is an urgent need to develop and implement water supply alternatives that address this water shortage and which are resilient to the increasingly frequent saltwater flooding and other extreme weather events. Aquifer storage, transfer and recovery (ASTR) technology has been proposed by UNICEF (Bangladesh) and Dhaka University as a potential low-cost, disaster-resilient water supply solution for these coastal communities. To implement the technology, fresh water collected via rooftop rainwater harvesting (or from surface ponds) is injected into shallow aquifers during the monsoon season, then the injected freshwater is stored in the aquifer for later extraction and use in the dry season.

The study will evaluate the feasibility of ASTR as a reliable, disaster-resilient water supply technology for low-lying coastal regions in Bangladesh, with saline groundwater aquifers. Variable-density groundwater modelling will be used in combination with field study data to (1) identify hydrogeological conditions required for ASTR schemes, (2) optimize the system design through investigation of engineering design parameters, (3) determine the effect that tides have on recovery efficiency and (4) investigate changes in water chemistry caused by installation schemes.

Personal Background

Jessica began her MESc program in September 2011, after completing an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and International Development at the University of Western Ontario. Alongside the MESc program, she is completing a cross-disciplinary certificate in Environment and Sustainability. Jessica has always been interested in environmental and world issues and this lead her to join the RESTORE group. She completed an undergraduate thesis also on the topic of ASTR in Bangladesh and is excited to be continuing her work in this area.

Travel and Awards

  • IAHS Groundwater Quality Conference - Poster Presentation - 2013
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship - 2012
  • IAH 2012 Niagara Falls Congress - Poster Presentation - 2012
  • John Booker Award – Geotechnical Research Center - 2012
  • Collaborative Environment and Sustainability Program Award – Centre for Environment and Sustainability - 2012
  • Civil Engineering Undergraduate Thesis Presentation Winner - 2011
  • DeMarco Green Technologies Design Competition Winner - 2011
  • Vander Laan Undergraduate Engineering Scholarship - 2011
  • Dean's Honours List - 2006 - 2011
  • Queen Elizabeth II Aiming of the Top Scholarship - 2006 - 2009