NSW Groundwater Sampling Program

New South Wales, Australia

Project Details

A clean and safe supply of groundwater is essential for the drinking water needs of country towns, major industries (especially agriculture) and to support groundwater dependent ecosystems. The decline in groundwater quantity and quality can create serious threat to human and animal health and the degradation of wetlands and rivers.

In 2021, the NSW Dept of Planning and Environment completed the first NSW-wide sampling program of groundwater quality. This type of information is crucial in assessing how groundwater resources respond to abstraction and climate change over time. This one year-study visited 588 bores at over 332 locations and collected 957 samples. For the project, NSW was divided into four zones and commercial contracts were developed for those regions for collection of the samples. KCB and our sub-contractor Reditus were one of three groups engaged.

The KCB team travelled 20,000 km across three campaign and safely spent 1,800 hours in the field. KCB staff faced challenges like floods, COVID-19 restrictions and navigating a mouse plague, but despite this, >90% of planned locations were visited, and samples were collected at those that were accessible. A vast range of bores and locations were visited multiple times during the study. This ensured the impacts of different events (e.g., pumping season, flooding) at these locations were accounted for in the data.

Over 3,000 water quality samples were analysed that contributed to the baseline data collection. This included sampling of the Great Artesian Basin, an aquifer that is under high artesian pressures and can experience elevated temperatures. This aquifer in some places is 1000 m below the ground surface and can be tens of thousand of years in age.

Samples collected were analysed for water quality parameters including major ions, metals, nutrients and stable isotope tracers. This data base will provide information to better understand regional hydrogeological properties such as aquifer recharge rates, water ages and pathways, and pollution stressors. Access to the data is available through the WaterNSW data service team at waterdataservice@waternsw.com.au and will be of benefit to Government agencies, prospective groundwater users, academic researchers and industry.