Optimal Water Allocation from Subsurface Dams: A Risk-Based Optimization Approach

Azizallah Izady*, Mohammad Sadegh Khorshidi, Mohammad Reza Nikoo, Ali Al-Maktoumi, Mingjie Chen, Hilal Al-Mamari, Amir H. Gandomi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Subsurface dams, strongly advocated in the 1992 United Nations Agenda-21, have been widely studied to increase groundwater storage capacity. However, an optimal allocation of augmented water with the construction of the subsurface dams to compensate for the water shortage during dry periods has not so far been investigated. This study, therefore, presents a risk-based simulation–optimization framework to determine optimal water allocation with subsurface dams, which minimizes the risk of water shortage in different climatic conditions. The developed framework was evaluated in Al-Aswad falaj, an ancient water supply system in which a gently sloping underground channel was dug to convey water from an aquifer via the gravity force to the surface for irrigation of downstream agricultural zones. The groundwater dynamics were modeled using MODFLOW UnStructured-Grid. The data of boreholes were used to generate a three-dimensional stratigraphic model, which was used to define materials and elevations of five-layer grid cells. The validated groundwater model was employed to assess the effects of the subsurface dam on the discharge of the falaj. A Conditional Value-at-Risk optimization model was also developed to minimize the risk of water shortage for the augmented discharge on downstream agricultural zones. Results show that discharge of the falaj is significantly augmented with a long-term average increase of 46.51%. Moreover, it was found that the developed framework decreases the water shortage percentage in 5% of the worst cases from 87%, 75%, and 32% to 53%, 32%, and 0% under the current and augmented discharge in dry, normal, and wet periods, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4275-4290
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number12
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Conditional value-at-risk
  • Falaj
  • Optimization
  • Subsurface dam
  • Water allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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