Improving knowledge of groundwater assets

Thursday, 26 July, 2012

A new cutting-edge research group has been launched to build a clearer picture of the size and quality of Queensland’s most valuable underground resource - water.

The Groundwater Research Group (GReG), an initiative of the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture and Faculty of Engineering and Surveying at the University of Southern Queensland, will conduct independent research to investigate the impact that the coal seam gas, mining and agriculture industries have on this precious resource.

GReG will be led by Professor Jochen Bundschuh and Dr Elad Dafny - both international leaders in the field of underground water research.

Professor Bundschuh said there was a large gap in the knowledge surrounding underground water in the region.

“It’s important that we build a more complete picture of the sub-surface water,” Professor Bundschuh explained.

“At the moment no one knows exactly what the outcomes will be in relation to the use of groundwater by industries like the coal seam gas industry.

“But it is very important that these investigations are done by a completely independent body, such as a university.”

Dr Dafny said using technology and expertise, it was possible to trace the path of a water droplet from rainfall, river flows and irrigation down through the earth and into the deep, underground aquifers.

He said one of the most important research goals was to determine the recharge rate and connectivity of underground aquifers in order to work out exactly how much water can be withdrawn without having negative long-term impacts.

Professor Bundschuh said Queensland’s Great Artesian Basin was one of the three biggest underground water resources in the world so it was vitally important to determine how it can be used at a sustainable level.

“If we contaminate this Basin there is no way to reverse it, so as a society we need to be very careful,” he said.

GReG researchers are currently meeting with stakeholders in both the private industry and at all three levels of government as part of the project launch phase.

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