Great Artesian Basin water supports many hundreds of spring ecosystems.
Our expertise in groundwater hydrology provides robust science to underpin effective water resource planning for the sustainable use of Australia’s groundwater resources.
12 January 2011 | Updated 18 September 2012
Groundwater is hidden out of sight, difficult to access, and it is challenging to measure its extent and fluxes. For these reasons it is often thought of as the poor cousin of surface water and given far less attention.
Groundwater provides about 22 per cent of Australia’s annual water consumption, though this fraction is much higher in dry years when surface water supplies are stretched. It is the only reliable water supply for much of Australia’s inland areas.
Groundwater resources in Australia underpin a range of agricultural and mining industries, are a major water supply for Perth and regional centres, and support many environmental assets. The persistent drought in south-eastern Australia throughout the first decade of the 21st century and through the last four decades in south-western Australia has highlighted the value of this critical resource as a secure water supply.
We have the largest group of groundwater hydrologists in Australia.
Groundwater is likely to become an increasingly attractive water resource in the future due to threats from projected lower and less reliable surface runoff in southern Australia.
However, the increased demand on groundwater to sustain population growth and increased food production, combined with increased legislative requirements for environmental flows, will require the development of more sophisticated groundwater management policies.
The Groundwater Hydrology program works in the Australian context where subdued topography and high rainfall deficit is manifested as low and episodic recharge, very low hydraulic gradients and large variability in salinity.
Our aims are two-fold. The first aim is to understand and quantify the biophysical processes at a range of scales that support the capacity for long-term use of groundwater without unacceptable or inadvertent impacts on surface water, the environment, groundwater levels, or water quality.
The second aim is to understand the extent to which terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems depend on groundwater, how they adapt to changed groundwater conditions, and to evaluate management options at the surface water–vegetation–groundwater nexus, particularly with respect to salinity impacts and watertable dynamics and trends.
Read more about CSIRO Land and Water.