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Groundwater monitoring

Groundwater monitoring helps us understand and make decisions about the quantity and quality of water beneath the earth’s surface (such as in aquifers).

Measuring quantity

To determine and monitor the quantity of groundwater resources, we measure ‘depth to water’ in over 3000 groundwater wells across South Australia. This involves measuring the distance from a reference point on the Earth’s surface to the top of the water table beneath the surface.

Monitoring 'depth to water' is vital to understanding and sustainably managing the quantity of groundwater within an aquifer. The depth changes depending on the time of year, the amount of recent rainfall, and the amount of groundwater being accessed by irrigators. Seasonal and long terms trends can be identified by analysing depth to water data. Additional interpretive products can be created, such as hydrographs, potentiometric surface maps and groundwater models, for technical experts.

Depth to water values are often converted to an Australian Height Datum (AHD) value to enable comparison across the region, regardless of topography (such as the land’s level above the sea). This ensures that scientists and water managers compare ‘like for like’ when making observations or management decisions.

View diagrams on how measurements of groundwater take place in the drillholes of an artesian aquifer and non-artesian aquifer.

Measuring quality

Groundwater quality monitoring takes place to measure salinity levels. This data is particularly needed in areas of high water demand where water use (such as irrigation) may impact on salinity. Salinity must be managed and salinity trends monitored to ensure that its impacts on water users and the environment can be managed.

The South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) also conducts ground water quality monitoring and reporting for a variety of physical and chemical measurements.