Facilitating long term outback water solutions (FLOWS).
GOYDER PROJECT NUMBER: I.2.1
Planned and potential mining and energy development in South Australia’s far north is set to have significant consequences for the water resources of the region. These sectors generate significant economic value to the State and their support remains a priority for the Government. The scale of the planned developments and the potential from current exploration programs facilitated by the South Australian Government through the Plan for Accelerated Exploration (PACE) Program will result in a substantial increase in infrastructure requirements, including access to water resources and Aboriginal lands for exploration and potential mine developments. Presently, knowledge about the character and variability of groundwater resources, the sustainability of this resource and its relationship to environmental and cultural assets remains very limited, particularly in the Musgraves, the North East and North West Gawler, and parts of the Frome Embayment. Access to water is a key infrastructure need for mining and energy industry development in these regions.
The G-FLOWS project, through a staged program of research, aims to invest in the development of an integrated water resource management strategy, thereby facilitating the economic growth potential of these priority regions. Drawing on the combined efforts of Goyder Institute participants, State and Federal Government agencies and industry, the project will initially determine the location and characteristics of aquifers, their capacity and the quality and variability of the contained groundwater resources. This knowledge will inform the accessibility and sustainability of the State’s groundwater resources that are suitable for mineral processing and energy supply. The outcomes of this project will enable prudent decision making and policies regarding water allocation, accounting, licensing, and sustainable yields whilst ensuring the protection of dependant ecosystems and environmental assets.
A major data compilation exercise is underway, with relevant State, Federal and company hydrogeological and geophysical data being collected. Mining companies have embraced conjunctive use of airborne geophysics to inform hydrogeology, and are supplying relevant data sets. Calibration procedures for airborne geophysical data from different systems have been assessed and are being trialled. The full inversion of historical AEM data sets acquired at different times and with different systems from the Musgraves, Frome and Gawler Craton Areas has been completed and an enhanced understanding of the hydrogeology of the Musgrave region developed. A GIS-based diffuse recharge map of northern South Australia has also been prepared.
Next Steps/Future Work
Plans are underway to sample groundwater systems in the APY Lands and SAAL areas of the State to better understand aquifer systems in these regions and groundwater recharge processes at finer scales. Trial AEM data sets will be acquired, processed and interpreted to inform the regional hydrogeology of the Musgrave Block and to help inform Government on options for a broader survey that will be interpreted from a hydrogeological perspective. Reports on this and the hydrogeology of the Musgrave Block are being compiled. Several conference papers are also being prepared. A workshop on Cultural and Ecological Flows, to be held jointly with the DfW and the Alinytjara Wiluara NRM Board, is being planned.