Fresh groundwater resources in a large sand replenishment
The anticipation of sea-level rise and increases in extreme weather conditions has led to the initiation of an innovative coastal management project called the Sand Engine. In this pilot project a large volume of sand (21.5 million m 3) – also called sand replenishment or nourishment – was placed on the Dutch coast. The intention is that the sand is redistributed by wind, current, and tide, reinforcing local coastal defence structures and leading to a unique, dynamic environment. In this study we investigated the potential effect of the long-term morphological evolution of the large sand replenishment and climate change on fresh groundwater resources. The potential effects on the local groundwater system were quantified with a calibrated three-dimensional (3-D) groundwater model, in which both variable-density groundwater flow and salt transport were simulated. Model simulations showed that the long-term morphological evolution of the Sand Engine results in a substantial growth of fresh groundwater resources, in all adopted climate change scenarios. Thus, the application of a local sand replenishment could provide coastal areas the opportunity to combine coastal protection with an increase of the local fresh groundwater availability.