1 Introduction</h5> The decrease in water resources coupled with an ever-increasing demand for water is a growing problem. Nearly half of the world's population depends on groundwater for drinking water and for other uses ( e.g. agriculture, municipal and industrial), and pumping often greatly exceeds natural recharge ( Konikow and Kendy, 2005; Rodell et al., 2009; Gleeson et al., 2010; Wada et al., 2010, 2012 ). At the same time, groundwater resources are increasingly threatened by chemical and biological contamination ( Fogg and LaBolle, 2006 ). Alternative and integrated water management schemes are therefore urgently needed to guarantee sustainable and safe water resources ( Gleick, 2003; Grant et al., 2012; Leung et al., 2012 ). The use of alternative and non-conventional water sources such as desalinated seawater, reclaimed water from wastewater, brackish water and excess rainwater catchment has been suggested ( Mohsen and Al-Jayyousi, 1999; Pandey et al., 2003; Levine and Asano, 2004; Miller, 2006; Hochstrat et al., 2010 ). Soil aquifer treatment (SAT) is one of the most obvious and promising options ( Asano, 1998; Levine and Asano, 2004; Bixio et al., 2005 ). It is an extensive, low-technology, and low-cost wastewater reclamation method, and it is
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