Securing Australia's Water Resources


Australia is the driest inhabited continent, which makes water use and management a key challenge. In many parts of Australia, groundwater underpins agriculture, the environment, minerals and energy resource development, and the well-being of regional communities. We need to better understand groundwater in order to properly manage it. Understanding the connection between groundwater and surface water systems, and reducing the impact of development on groundwater supply and quality are critical to our water security and regional development.

Our Role

Geoscience Australia supports the fair sharing of Australia’s water resources for a strong economy, resilient society and sustainable environment. We aspire to identify the location, quantity and quality of Australia’s groundwater resources to support sustainable water management.

10 Year Targets

  • We will deliver a complete map of Australia’s groundwater system with estimated resource volumes
  • We will collaborate to deliver a complete understanding of the national surface and groundwater resources
  • We will deliver regional assessments of groundwater resources in priority areas
  • We will provide data, information and advice on groundwater systems to inform the sustainable management of these resources by government, industry and communities
  • We will develop new technologies that support the discovery of new groundwater resources.

Work Activities and Capability

Evaluating Australia's Groundwater Systems

The Evaluating Australia’s Groundwater Systems program provides authoritative, independent information and advice to the Australian Government and other stakeholders on groundwater resources, processes and impacts.

This work delivers new geoscience data and assessments of the nature, size and status of accessible groundwater resources across Australia. This new data and information informs the sustainable management and responsible development of groundwater resources and provides transparent, evidence-based technical advice in support of Australian Government priorities. Geoscience Australia delivers this work through collaborative partnerships with a range of Australian, state and territory government entities and university partners.

Groundwater and Surface Water Innovation

The Groundwater and Surface Water Innovation program uses new and emerging science and technology to resolve key questions regarding groundwater-surface water systems that support the discovery and characterisation of new groundwater systems.

This work actively scans, applies and advances current and emerging science and technology useful in the investigation of groundwater systems, issues and risks. It capitalises on existing national and regional geospatial and geoscience datasets, advanced computing capabilities and application of modern industry and geoscience methods for better understanding of the nation’s groundwater system.

As part of this program, Geoscience Australia provides scientific leadership to drive cross-disciplinary, holistic assessments of hydrogeological systems.

Strategic Priorities and Performance Criteria

Geoscience Australia’s work program impacts six key areas of society. For each area, the environmental context, the role of the organisation, the long-term targets, and the work program activities and capabilities are described.

Geoscience Australia’s performance will be assessed using a number of qualitative and quantitative measures to communicate a comprehensive view of performance that will be presented in the organisation’s annual performance statement. Performance measures will include assessment against key work deliverables, key performance indicators and case studies.

Performance Measures 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023
Evaluating Australia's Groundwater Systems        
Program deliverables        
Provide authoritative, independent information and advice to the Australian Government and other stakeholders on groundwater resources, processes and impacts
Deliver stage reports to the Department of the Environment and Energy on the Geological and Bioregional Assessments    
Deliver stage reports on the water balance of the Great Artesian Basin  
Program key performance indicators        
Requests for groundwater resource management advice under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 responded to within agreed timeframes 95% 95% 95% 95%
Groundwater and Surface Water Innovation        
Program deliverables        
Develop new workflows to integrate and analyse data in a high performance computing environment
Case Study
New groundwater data supporting agricultural development – Ord region, northern Australia
Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future program is delivering new data, science and understanding of the surface and groundwater systems and associated soils to attract new agricultural investment in key regions of northern Australia.
This case study will look at the greater Ord region of Western Australia and the significant investment in agricultural land made possible from new innovative solutions that has transformed our understanding of groundwater recharge and discharge processes, potential soil and salinity hazards, together with mapping water tables and assessing groundwater volumes.