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National Groundwater R&D Programme

Water that has accumulated beneath the Earth's surface in soil pores and cracks and spaces in the rock can be pumped to the surface and used for agriculture and other industries. However, the store can be polluted by chemicals seeping down through the soil and its removal can affect dependent ecosystems and even cause subsidence.

Traditionally, groundwater has been regarded as an inexhaustible source of water. But this view has changed and it is now recognised that its quantity and quality can be jeopardised. The National Groundwater R&D Programme provided management and policy information, and tools to assist in the sustainable use of groundwater and the protection of its quality.

The Programme concluded in June 2002.

Goals and Strategies

The mission of the Programme was to invest in targeted research into technical and policy issues in diffuse pollution, the role of groundwater in ecosystems, and groundwater allocation. The Programme also had the objective of communicating and delivering groundwater R & D outcomes to targeted clients. The Programme strategy has involved a national review of R&D needs followed by prioritisation by a management committee comprising experts from the key State managing agencies.

Other strategies included undertaking collaborative R&D with partners, commissioning R&D in priority areas of supply failure, incorporating appropriate communication/transfer pathways in each project and maintaining a watching brief on groundwater policy and management developments.

Collaborating Organisations

Lead agency: Land & Water Australia

Program partners: NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, Western Australian Water and Rivers Commission, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mining and National Groundwater Management.


Projects on fractured rock systems at Clare and Wagga Wagga have now been completed.

The Clare project was been especially important in developing new techniques for evaluating water and solute flow in such systems. These studies, combined with a project on the Atherton Tablelands, gave new insights into the management of fractured rock aquifers that underlie much of Australia.

Due to the interest in this work, it was decided to commission a manual that would bring together what we know about groundwater in fractured rock aquifers:

id: 3184 / created: 15 April, 2009 / last updated: 13 August, 2009