The groundwater level and its seasonal changes are fundamental knowledge in MAR feasibility studies. Geologist Kristiina Nuottimäki (GTK) conducts groundwater level measurements at the Tan Anh well field with CEWAFO groundwater experts Dang Tran Trung and Hoang Van Duy. Photo: Jaana Jarva, GTK

International groundwater project shares Finnish expertise in Vietnam

GTK’s participation in groundwater research projects in developing countries brings advantages on many levels. Included are the promotion of sustainable water management practices and capacity building in the target country.

Text: Heidi Taustila

Currently running is Viet MAR (Managed aquifer recharge to ensure sustainable groundwater availability and quality under ongoing climate change and fast economic development in Vietnam), a 3-year project, which started in March 2018.

– The Viet MAR project is being conducted under the Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI) of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The participants of the project include GTK, the Sub-Institute of HydroMeteorology and Climate Change (SIHYMECC), and the Center for Water Resources Warning and Forecast (CEWAFO), tells Project Manager Jaana Jarva, Senior Scientist in Environmental Geology Unit at GTK.

High-level, interdisciplinary research will help  in surviving future problems

The coastal districts of the Binh Dinh province in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam are low-lying areas. They suffer from water shortage problems, which are increasing due to climate change impacts and socio-economic development. According to Jarva, the geological and hydrogeological conditions of the coastal areas are suitable for MAR (Managed Aquifer Recharge). In addition, groundwater is the main water resource for livelihoods in the coastal cities of the Binh Dinh province.

MAR has been widely applied around the world for decades. As it has turned out to be a feasible, environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution in enhancing sustainable water management, it has been chosen to be implemented within the Viet MAR project.

– Basically, the point is to collect clean water in the rain season, store it, and use it in the dry season. Of course, it is not as simple as it sounds, describes Philipp Schmidt-Thomé, Head of International Cooperation at GTK.

As Jarva points out, the main objectives of the Viet MAR project include studying current hydrological conditions and finding out the possibilities MAR could provide in the Binh Dinh province.

– Within this project, we can evaluate the different possibilities to apply MAR in Vietnamese hydrogeological and climatological conditions, and then adapt the feasible methods in other areas in Vietnam, and in other countries as well. We are indeed expecting positive results, says Schmidt-Thomé.

– Furthermore, the project aims to improve the local capabilities to implement a full-scale MAR, as well as improve communication and raise awareness of sustainable water management in Vietnam, elaborates Jarva.

Cooperation enables a vast range of expert services

Projects such as Viet MAR present an excellent possibility for GTK to both develop and share its know-how.

– At present, GTK works in cooperation within a consortium or pool of partners. In this way we can offer a vaster range of expert services as well as gain benefit from the Finnish know-how on a larger scale that would not be possible if we worked independently, says Jussi Ahonen, Head of the Groundwater Unit at GTK.

However, due to years of successful work in mining and mineral sectors, GTK has become a household name around the world. Ahonen finds the good reputation useful in furthering new groundwater projects.

– Finland’s water sector share in the international commercial market is quite narrow, although Finland has for decades actively worked in the water sector through development projects. In order to be able to participate in the future procurement of, for example, World Bank Group financed projects and programmes, we are in the process of obtaining a fair number of upgraded international references, explains Ahonen.

– GTK is proud to represent Finnish expertise and trustworthiness abroad. At the same time, we intend to support small and medium-sized Finnish companies to expand their international business, summarises Schmidt-Thomé.

What is Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)

• Represents a viable method for sustainable water management

• Applies intentional and controlled infiltration of surface water or harvested rainwater into aquifers

• The purpose is to increase water quantity and /or to improve water quality of an aquifer

• Other environmental applications besides enhancing water supply exist, e.g. flood impact mitigation, saline intrusion control, and managing land subsidence

• MAR has also proven to be a feasible option to enhance sustainable water management in changing climate conditions and in extreme  weather events globally

Viet MAR 2018–2021

• MAR is applied to ensure sustainable groundwater availability and quality under ongoing climate change and fast economic development in Vietnam

• Location of case study: Quy Nhon in the Binh Dinh province in South Central Coast region of Vietnam

• Main objectives: to gain a thorough understanding of the geological and hydrogeological features of the case study aquifer in different climatic conditions; to determine the different requirements and potentials of MAR; to improve the capability to implement MAR; and to improve communication and raise awareness of sustainable water management

• Participants: GTK, SIHYMECC (Sub-Institute of HydroMeteorology and Climate Change), CEWAFO (Center for Water Resources Warning and Forecast), and associated partner companies, i.a. Turku Region Water Ltd.

• GTK´s key contacts: Project Manager Jaana Jarva, Kristiina Nuottimäki, Daniele Pedretti, Nina Hendriksson, Samrit Luoma

River water may interact with the aquifer and have an influence on groundwater quality. Research professor Daniele Pedretti (GTK) and groundwater expert Hoang Van Duy (CEWAFO) are taking field measurements by the Con river. Photo: Jaana Jarva, GTK