Working Group: Economics of MAR


Andrew Ross (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)


  • to document the financial costs and economics of MAR in relation to alternative water supplies or storages; and
  • to provide information on the value of investing in MAR, and identify scenarios where MAR may produce the least cost water supply.


The program of the working group is being developed in two stages:

–Stage 1: 2016-18: Collection & analysis of financial (cost) data for selected MAR schemes.  A standard framework was developed for analysing financial costs of MAR, and data for 21 MAR schemes in 6 countries was collected and analysed and reported in:

  • Ross, A and Hasnain, S (2018) Factors affecting the cost of managed aquifer recharge schemes. Sustainable Water Resources Management 4 (2):179-190.
  • Further paper in preparation including larger number of schemes

–Stage 2: 2018 onwards: Cost effectiveness and cost benefit analysis of selected MAR schemes

  • Cost effectiveness analysis of specific cases–To provide further information about the competitiveness of MAR compared with other techniques
  • Analysis of CBAs from specific cases–To provide further insights on the value and benefits of MAR

In January 2019, UNESCO agreed to produce a booklet on Exemplary MAR case studies, through the combined efforts of this Working Group, the MAR for Sustainable Development Working Group, GRIPP and IGRAC.

How to contribute

Volunteers are needed to furnish financial and economic information on MAR schemes to enable robust and locally relevant data and information. This information may also be useful to MAR for Sustainable Development Working Group, and selected data may be mounted on the Global MAR Inventory site. Many thanks to Koen Zuurbier, David Pyne, Peter Dillon, Bob Bower, Tim Gorey, Gabriel de los Cobos, Adam Hutchinson and Cornelius Sandhu for supplying data and to others who have promised data. Please contact Andrew Ross if you can help.

History of Working Group and Outcomes

At ISMAR8 Andrew Ross of ANU (Australia), David Pyne (USA), Enrique Fernandez (Spain), Gerd Cachandt (UK), Friedemann Scheibler (NL) and Bob Bower (NZ) met to discuss collaborative work on the economics of MAR. Bob Maliva (USA) and Peter Dillon (Aust) subsequently also contributed.

The discussion in Beijing suggested two initial priorities for work by the group;

  • development of a standard framework and measures for accounting the costs (and benefits) of aquifer storage and recovery. The (levelised) unit cost of water is one appropriate measure for comparing alternative sources of regular water supply, whereas the unit cost of recovery capacity is a measure for a reserve supply that is only used occasionally; and
  • compilation of a set of case studies that include financial and economic analysis of aquifer storage and recovery.

Following ISMAR 8 Sharon Megdal University of Arizona, Tucson, USA and Peter Dillon, CSIRO, Australia, edited a thematic issue of the open access MDPI Journal Water entitled Policy and Economics of Managed Aquifer Recharge and Water Banking. Fourteen papers, most of which were presented at ISMAR9 may be downloaded, and are also available as a book from the MDPI Water website.