Northern Waters Supply Project

Impacts of reduced water extractions on aquifer pressure of the Great Artesian Basin near mound springs: gap analyses and modelling scenarios

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Project Partners:

Flinders University and Other

Research Theme:

N/A

Status:

Project Overview

Water availability underpins the cultural, economic, environmental, and social values of water dependent ecosystems and is a critical factor limiting the growth of the South Australian economy through the Food, Wine and Agribusiness and Energy and Mining sectors.

Within South Australia, the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) provides water for pastoral water use, the Olympic Dam wellfields, and co-produced water associated with oil extractions in the Cooper Basin. There have been significant impacts on important cultural, economic, environmental, and social values of some of the GAB mound springs due to the extractions, as well as ecosystem degradation by cattle and feral herbivores. Mound springs are nat­ur­al arte­sian springs cre­at­ed from water deep with­in the GAB which fil­ters to the sur­face, form­ing mounds and bub­bling ponds, they are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). 

The South Australian Government the Norther Waters Project to investigate a new coastal desalination plant and pipeline to treat and transport water to the north of the state to support mining, energy and agricultural activities. It is anticipated that the desalination plant will reduce extractions from the GAB which may affect the mound springs in a variety of ways.

This project will model the impact of a reduction in groundwater taken from the aquifers of the GAB and how this will impact on spring pressure levels and spring flow rates from spring tails. This aspect of the work deals with the development of hydrogeological modelling-based evidence through predictive scenario analysis of the response of aquifer pressure to reductions in water extractions from the GAB.

This project is in partnership with Infrastructure SA, funded by SA Department for Environment and Water (DEW) and will use the GAB hydrogeological model developed by DEW .

Progress Update and Key Findings

Data collection and modeling scenarios regarding reduction in groundwater taken from the GAB are currently being run.

Project Impacts

The main outcome of the project is to provide the South Australian Government through Infrastructure SA with an independent and scientifically rigorous assessment of the likely primary impacts of reducing extraction from the GAB on mound springs in the region.

The key knowledge gap to be addressed by this research is the understanding of the relationship between aquifer water pressures and spring artesian head and groundwater discharge from springs. The South Australian Department for Environment and Water (DEW) has developed a GAB groundwater model to assess the response of aquifer pressure to different water extraction regimes. This includes the cumulative impacts from various users on pressures in the vicinity of springs’ complexes. The research team will investigate the use of the DEW model for assessing the impact of reduced extraction from the GAB.

The project will not make any conclusions or recommendations regarding the sustainability or otherwise of past, current, or future groundwater abstraction, or make any comment about potential reductions in groundwater extraction that are directly related to a specific individual, organization or industry.

Research Outputs

No Available Content

Project News