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As part of the Western Australian Government’s groundwater investigation program, a new innovative survey tool is being used to collect data in Swan Valley.

The Swan Valley North-East Corridor groundwater investigation project is one of the 18 current projects funded by the Western Australian Government through the State Groundwater Investigation Program.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, together with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, is currently trialling the use of the Loupe portable, electromagnetic survey tool during the project.

The Loupe, which is designed and manufactured in Perth, is an electromagnetic survey device carried in a backpack and is specifically designed for rapid data collection and mapping electrical conductivity near the ground surface. 

The sensing equipment sends an electromagnetic pulse into the ground and records the return signal. The receiver and transmitter are carried by one person each within a backpack. 

The electromagnetic pulse used is completely safe, with the intensity of the magnetic field less than that generated from a house and much less than that generated by overhead power lines. 

Electromagnetic surveys of the ground surface determine the electrical properties of rocks, soil and water, to help map underground features such as aquifer boundaries, barriers to groundwater flow and salinity. 

The information collected through this project will provide important information that will assist the sustainable management of groundwater resources in the Swan Valley area.

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said reduced rainfall because of climate change and increased water usage is having a significant impact on groundwater systems, with groundwater not being replenished as it once was.

“By carrying out this important research we are able to better understand the impacts of climate change on our precious groundwater resources and help ensure its sustainable management into the future,” Mr Kelly said.

“I’m really pleased this innovative technology is being trialled as part of this investigation project – not only supporting a local innovator but also enabling the collection of valuable research data with minimal disruption to the environment.”

The work being undertaken through this new project will provide important additional information on groundwater quality close to the Swan River. This follows an airborne electromagnetic survey of the Swan Valley project area and its groundwater flows in 2020.

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