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Groundwater

Groundwater is the water beneath the earth’s surface that occurs in cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rock called aquifers. Managing groundwater sustainability is important in improving the quality of the City’s waterways and ecosystems.

Groundwater is naturally recharged by rainwater that seeps down into the cracks and crevices beneath the land’s surface. Although we can’t normally see groundwater, it can be found almost everywhere under the ground.

Some groundwater facts:

Groundwater can be fresh and suitable for drinking. Other groundwater can be salty or contaminated, making it unsuitable for some uses. Aquifers can contain chemicals and micro-organisms that are potentially harmful. Some of these chemicals occur naturally and others are a result of contamination. Both water quality and aquifer yield determines whether groundwater is appropriate for human consumption, stock water supplies, irrigation or mining uses.

Groundwater in urban areas is more likely to be contaminated by human activities. If groundwater becomes polluted, it will no longer be safe to drink. 

Managing groundwater

The easiest way to limit impacts to groundwater is to reduce consumption of water-intensive products and be mindful of land use practices. There are also engineering solutions that can help. Managed aquifer recharge is the practice of putting water back into the ground to limit groundwater depletion. It can be accomplished by pumping treated stormwater or recycled water into special wells to replenish an aquifer.

Groundwater in Queensland is monitored and managed by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), with environmental impacts and issues considered by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

Groundwater is regulated and you may need authorisation before you can access it. For further information contact Queensland Government general enquiries 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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Images provided by Grant Periott (2019).

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