Explorer searches for underground treasure

Hydrogeologist Grant Bolton gave up looking for diamonds in the Kimberley to hunt for a different kind of treasure.

His search has taken him to some of the most remote locations in WA to study the complex network of underground waterways and reservoirs that make up our groundwater.

For almost 40 years, Mr Bolton and his fellow scientists from Rockwater have worked closely with the team from Busselton Water to design and manage the sophisticated system of bores which bring water from deep underground reservoirs known as aquifers, to supply Busselton’s drinking water.

Mr Bolton will be one of the many champions waving the flag during National Groundwater Awareness Week, which kicks off on Sunday (March 11-18), with a week-long program of activities to encourage the responsible development, management, and use of our precious underground resources.

“Most of Busselton’s water comes from the very deep Yarragadee Aquifer so the water is very high quality and absolutely pristine,” Mr Bolton said.

“Water is the most undervalued substance on earth. It’s also the world’s most extracted natural resource because we need it for everything we do – yet we can pay less for a litre of water than we can for a litre of fuel.

“The science we’re using is much more precise than when I first started. It allows us to carefully farm groundwater rather than mine it. That means we can track usage and aquifer replenishment rates to make sure we take just what we need and to protect the supply for the future.”

Busselton Water owns and operates a multi-million dollar network of bores and pump stations to extract water from the prehistoric Yarragadee Aquifer and reticulate it around the community. The deepest bore extends almost 800m below the earth’s surface to reach the massive freshwater reservoir.

“All of Busselton’s water supply comes from groundwater. Our water is very high quality and we are doing everything possible to protect and preserve it” said Busselton Water Chief Executive Officer Chris Elliott.

“Everyone in the community can help by using water wisely to minimise wastage, making sure that they only water on the appropriate watering days and choosing water efficient appliances.”

Organisers of National Groundwater Awareness Week are asking the public to ‘pay it forward’ and do their bit by reminding others about the importance of groundwater and asking them to pass the message on.

For more information on Busselton’s groundwater system and ways to save water at home and at work, visit www.busseltonwater.wa.gov.au

Grant Bolton hard at work in the field