Groundwater recharge remains almost totally unknown across the Mekong River Basin, hindering the evaluation of groundwater potential for irrigation. A regional regression model was developed to map groundwater recharge across the Lower Mekong Basin where agricultural water demand is increasing, especially during the dry season. The model was calibrated with baseflow computed with the local-minimum flow separation method applied to streamflow recorded in 65 unregulated sub-catchments since 1951. Our results, in agreement with previous local studies, indicate that spatial variations in groundwater recharge are predominantly controlled by the climate (rainfall and evapotranspiration) while aquifer characteristics seem to play a secondary role at this regional scale. While this analysis suggests large scope for expanding agricultural groundwater use, the map derived from this study provides a simple way to assess the limits of groundwater-fed irrigation development. Further data measurements to capture local variations in hydrogeology will be required to refine the evaluation of recharge rates to support practical implementations.
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