Review of Recharge Mechanisms for the Great Artesian Basin
for Department of Environment and Water Resources
About the review
The Great Artesian Basin (GAB) covers about one-fifth of the Australian continent and contains about 8.7 x 106 GL of groundwater in the Jurassic sandstone aquifers. Although there is widespread use of many thousands of artesian bores throughout the GAB, relatively little is known of the water balance, particularly recharge.
The review is provided within the context of a very large aquifer system where recharge rates have varied considerably over the time scale of development of the aquifer system. The large reservoir of fresh groundwater has developed during much wetter climatic conditions in the past that those prevailing over the last 10 000 years or more. There is no consensus that the water balance of the GAB is currently 'in balance' — that is that recharge rates equal total of discharge via natural discharge and pumping or exploitation of artesian wells.
The objectives of this review commissioned by the Commonwealth Dept. of Environment and Water Resources on behalf of the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee are:
- To provide a literature review of methods to estimate recharge
- To develop conceptual models for the recharge mechanisms of the GAB and advise on appropriate methodologies for the quantification of recharge in the GAB
- Develop costed recharge investigation projects in the Coonamble Embayment NSW and the western GAB in SA and NT.