Adding 2 more NT science projects to our growing catalogue

14 March 2024

The Northern Territory (NT) is home to some of the most unique groundwater systems in all of Australia. Science is at the forefront of helping us to understand what they can offer and how they can be sustainably used.

Many communities in the NT rely on groundwater systems, so it’s important we have the most accurate information possible to help inform decision making on how this groundwater is used.

That’s why our National Water Grid Science Program has committed a further $1.315 million to kick start the second phases of 2 important NT projects.

Our first project, ‘Recalibration of models in high demand water systems’, will see groundwater system models updated using the most current climate data, such as average temperatures and rainfall. This data could then be used to improve our understanding of the current conditions of the region’s groundwater systems and how they will be impacted in the future.

This project will focus on 3 major aquifer systems, bodies of rock that hold enough accessible water to be useable as water resources, including the:

  • Ti Tree Paleochannel aquifer
  • Berry Springs Dolostrone aquifer 
  • Koolpinyah Dolostone aquifer.

The Ti Tree and Berry Springs aquifers are the main community water supply for the region. They are the single source of water supply for stock, horticulture and domestic water use.

The Koolpinyah Aquifer is the sole source of water for Darwin’s rural residential areas and communities who do not have access to reticulated water.

Our second project, ‘Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) surveys and digital elevation model (DEM) development for key NT rivers’, goes hand in hand with the first project. It will focus on  groundwater extraction points in these regions.

The LiDAR survey will examine the surface of the earth, providing highly accurate data. Next up are the DEM 3D models of the bare earth, highlighting the surrounding areas, such as hills. These are shown by capturing the contours (elevation points) of the area.

By looking at both these products together, it’s possible to more confidently predict the behaviour of groundwater and how water systems interact at extraction points.

This will allow the NT to carefully control how water is extracted for allocation and use elsewhere.

What benefits will flow….

The benefits of both projects flow from one to the other. Some of the expected benefits include:

  • social benefits, such as improving the liveability of the area
  • economic benefits, such as supporting the horticultural industries of the area, including mango and melon farming, vegetables and cut flowers
  • eco-tourism benefits, with the local holiday parks thriving and attracting more visitors
  • environmental benefits, through taking pressure off local ecosystems by being able to assess negative groundwater drawdown events.

We look forward to adding these projects to our growing catalogue of scientific research that is helping to inform water infrastructure decisions across the nation.

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