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What Is It?

When rain falls, some of it flows across the surface of the land and accumulates in rivers, lakes, and eventually the ocean. But some of the water seeps into the ground and accumulates within cracks or pores in the rocks (aquifers), forming groundwater resources, which in turn also eventually flow into rivers, lakes or the ocean.

In Australia, groundwater makes up approximately 17 per cent of accessible water resources and accounts for over 30 per cent of our total water consumption. 

The Problem

The return to drought conditions since 2016 and the resulting decrease in surface-water availability have seen an increase in the dependency on groundwater. Many aquifers have experienced limited recharge and recovery, and have not returned to pre–millennium drought levels (BOM 2021c).

Other threats to groundwater include:

  • reductions in rain events associated with climate change
  • overextraction
  • contamination
  • saltwater or seawater intrusion
  • mining and coal-seam gas extraction.

The decrease in groundwater levels has adversely affected groundwater-dependent ecosystems. 

The Solutions

Groundwater replenishment

It's an innovative concept where treated wastewater is purified beyond drinking water standards and recharged into our groundwater supplies. The purified recycled water can then be stored in our underground aquifers, which store and naturally filter the water until we need it. It doesn't rely on rainfall and has the potential to recycle large volumes of water naturally and sustainably - find out more here.

What can you do?

Within the Shire of Northam, 233,128kL of groundwater is utlised annually for the supply horticulture and industry or private residential use. Those who use this resource can limit groundwater use and help to look after our precious aquifer.