Digging deep on groundwater
Posted: 13 April 2023
Did you know – that our drinking water comes from a place as old as the dinosaurs?
In the Busselton area, most of our water comes from the Yarragadee aquifer which runs beneath the Swan Coastal Plain, all the way from Geraldton to the south coast. It’s hundreds of metres below ground and it’s about two kilometres deep, storing about 1,000 cubic kilometres of water!
It’s not a big underground lake, if that’s what you’re imagining. Instead, it’s a huge area of porous sandstone with water filling the gaps in the rock and soil. And it’s ancient. Geologists believe it was formed during the Jurassic period, which started about 200 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were running around.
Groundwater can stay in the aquifer for centuries – in some areas it’s been in place for more than 30,000 years.
We pump the groundwater to the surface using submersible pumps in nine bores across the Busselton Water licence area.
When it reaches the surface, the water temperature is around 35 degrees – so not cool at all. What is cool, is that we’ve taken advantage of that phenomenon to naturally heat the swimming pools at the Geographe Leisure Centre.
Quality drinking water – that’s cool too
The Yarragadee aquifer provides Busselton with all our drinking water.
In Perth and other areas, there are other sources of water (including desalination, dams and groundwater replenishment) but in Busselton, all of our drinking water currently comes from groundwater. There are currently no other water sources for our drinking water supplies.
So it’s pretty cool that we have this amazing resource underground, but not so cool that there are limits on this fabulous resource.
Facing the future.
It’s hard to imagine where we’d be without groundwater – but it’s worth contemplating that disturbing proposition because our region is getting drier, while demand for water is increasing as our population grows.
The Yarragadee aquifer is replenished by rainfall, but in the south west of Australia, that has reduced by between 15 and 20 per cent since the 1970s.
Less rainfall has meant that coastal saline water has begun seeping into the Yarragadee aquifer and that’s going to be a significant issue.
Ease the pressure.
Here at Busselton Water, we are carefully monitoring supply, and planning how we might keep up the supply of fresh, plentiful water for generations to come.
In the meantime, everyone can help ease the pressure – especially if you don’t like imagining where we’d be without plentiful supplies of groundwater.
You can help ease the pressure with some simple changes around the house and at work. For example, make sure you’ve:
- Cut your shower by even just one minute
- Use the half-flush on your toilet more often
- Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth
- If you have a dishwasher, use it
- Choose a water-efficient washing machine for the laundry
- And fix that leaking tap!
If you’re looking for more ideas to save water and take the pressure off – you’ll find some here!
And if you want to know more about Water for Tomorrow, you’ll also find more on our website.