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The Federal Government is mapping Australia’s underground water reservoirs in a first of its kind stock-take of the nation’s groundwater resources, in an effort to ensure future water security. 

The National Hydrogeological Inventory, developed by Geoscience Australia, has mapped Australia’s major groundwater-bearing basins and geological provinces. 

The inventory paints a picture of the communities, industries and environments that rely on groundwater.

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Madeleine King, said that despite Australia’s reliance on groundwater, experts still had a long way to go in their knowledge and understanding of groundwater systems. 

“Groundwater is critical to our national water security and for many areas of Australia has been the only constant source of water,” Ms King said. 

“The Inventory, developed through Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future Program, will assist decision-making and help us plan future investment in groundwater.” 

Federal Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, said that the Inventory was an example of how the Government is working to better understand and protect the environment for future generations.

“The impacts of climate change will leave lasting effects on surface water, so now more than ever we need to understand the lifecycle of groundwater,” Ms Plibersek said.

“The new National Hydrogeological Inventory will provide improved access to information on both shallow and deep groundwater systems, which support regional and remote community water supplies, urban water supply and our precious plants and animals.”

Geoscience Australia’s Dr Steve Lewis, a groundwater geologist, said one of the most intriguing elements of groundwater is the occurrence of recharge – the process by which water moves downwards through the Earth’s surface to become groundwater, recharging the aquifers within the basin.  

“Developing an understanding of groundwater recharge processes is fundamental for developing a water balance, and for the sustainable management of water resources,” Dr Lewis said.

“Most recently we have been studying recharge processes in the Great Artesian Basin through mapping surface and near-surface structures to understand how water enters the ground to recharge the basin aquifers. 

“This basin is the most significant hydrogeological system in the country covering more than 1.7 million square kilometres across Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

“For each hydrogeological region, a range of consistent and up-to-date information is compiled, relevant to understanding the geology, geography, hydrogeology including groundwater resources and systems.” 

The new National Hydrogeological Inventory will collate these studies to provide a greater understanding of Australia’s water systems, allowing a national view of groundwater resources across Australia. 

The inventory can be viewed here.

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