Groundwater abstraction in the Roper Region, Northern Territory

Susie Macfarlane, Charlie Fairfield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    An assessment of the sustainability of water resources
    in the Roper region’s Tindall Limestone Aquifer
    (TLA) was undertaken in 2016 using neoteric data, to
    ascertain a balance between maintaining the integrity
    of the natural environment, while maximising the
    potential of the available water resources for future
    economic development. The TLA is one of the Northern
    Territory’s best-quality, highest-yielding groundwater
    resources (Department of Land Resource Management,
    2016). The current Northern Territory Government is
    committed to continuing the water allocation planning
    to ensure on-going management of resources in the
    region (Northern Territory Government – Draft Water
    Allocation Plan, 2011).
    In many Australian regions, water is allocated for
    various forms of use, these allocations are based on
    current and historic information (including past and
    present rainfall patterns) relating to the availability of
    water in the area. This information is the basis on which
    water extraction licences are granted and subsequent
    abstraction from ground and surface sources occurs.
    When determining the capacity of an aquifer,
    comprehensive bore data are essential. These bore
    data are obtained from existing bores, or by drilling
    new test holes, which provides recovery, yield, depth,
    and drawdown information. This is valuable when
    assessing both the capacity of an individual bore, and
    the availability of water in the area. Collation of data from numerous bore sites combined with other data on
    the Roper region will assist in determining the capacity
    for water allocations, and developing a water plan to
    ensure its sustainability.
    Water Allocation Planning for the TLA Mataranka
    began in 2008, with no WAP yet declared: to date,
    19 groundwater licences appear on the Groundwater
    Extraction Licence register for Tindall aquifer
    (Mataranka) of which, 12 licences were granted for
    agriculture (for up to a ten-year period) (Department of
    Land Resource Management, 2016). Water licences give
    the Northern Territory Government a mechanism with
    which to reduce water allocations as a result of reduced
    annual aquifer recharge. Historical records for the
    Roper region TLA and existing areas of interest (AoI)
    are sparse. This study used new data to examine the
    water resources of the TLA in the Roper River region
    and recommends: undertaking further analysis using
    these new data; increasing the number of automatic
    gauging stations; and expanding site exploratory work
    to increase resource reliability for future water planning
    and allocations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-21
    Number of pages21
    JournalWater: Journal of the Australian Water Association
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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