An airborne electromagnetic survey has begun over the Peel Food Zone in WA to provide new and detailed information on potential water resources for the Transform Peel project.

The data collected from the survey will be used to help assess the quality of the groundwater, and model the potential impacts of future groundwater abstraction on existing users and water dependent ecosystems.

The survey involves a helicopter carrying a large coil about 30m above the ground, which sends an electromagnetic pulse into the ground and records the return signal.

When completed, the survey will provide information about the geological properties of the groundwater system, groundwater salinity and the location of the saltwater-freshwater interface.

The investigation follows the start of a study in September 2017 to determine if recharging aquifers with stormwater could help secure long-term water supplies for intensive agriculture for Transform Peel’s Peel Food Zone and adjacent Peel Business Park.

The study assessed how stormwater can be captured and stored in a deep aquifer during winter and accessed for irrigated agriculture in summer.

WA Minister for Water, Dave Kelly, said, “Airborne electromagnetic surveys are increasingly used to conduct geophysical surveys as large areas can be covered in days as opposed to weeks or months using ground-based techniques.

“This work will contribute valuable information on groundwater quality and availability in the region, and improve our understanding of how the groundwater system works.

“The models developed through this survey are an important part of ensuring sustainable management of water, both for the environment and for the economic growth created by the Peel Food Zone.” 

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