Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment
New groundwater resources identified near Menindee Lakes
12 December 2013
Geoscience Australia has identified new potential groundwater resources beneath the Darling River floodplain near Menindee Lakes in far western New South Wales (NSW).
The potential groundwater resources and aquifer storage options were identified in the 7,500 square kilometre study area at depths of 25 to 100 metres below the ground. Between 2,100 and 4,400 gigalitres of fresh to acceptable quality groundwater are estimated to be stored in the regional aquifer system.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Simon Birmingham said whilst the volumes of water identified are prospective, the sustainable level of any future use most definitely requires further investigation.
The research undertaken by Geoscience Australia was part of the Australian Government's investigation into the best approach to enhance Broken Hill's water supply during drought. This is a key consideration in the ongoing development of a project at Menindee Lakes involving infrastructure works and operational changes to achieve substantial water savings from reduced evaporation at the Lakes.
"Whilst Geoscience Australia has emphasised that further work is required to determine how this groundwater could be managed, this discovery and its implications for water security and local economic development are significant," Senator Birmingham said.
"As an option to secure Broken Hill's water supply under drought conditions, the report outlines how these potentially good quality groundwater resources can be managed in conjunction with the existing surface water resources at the Menindee Lakes.
The 'Jimargil' site, located approximately 10 to 15 kilometres south west of Menindee township, has been identified as a priority site for potential groundwater supply to Broken Hill which could be used to supplement water supply from the Menindee Lakes in time of drought.
Senator Birmingham said this comprehensive and innovative research has set a new benchmark for the investigation of groundwater resources in Australia, combining technologies and approaches normally only used in the minerals and energy exploration sectors.
"The work has been comprehensively reviewed by the United States Geological Survey, providing a high degree of confidence in the results and an improved science framework to support regional groundwater management," Senator Birmingham said.
The project reports released today are available at www.ga.gov.au/groundwater/our-projects/ broken-hill-managed-aquifer-recharge