This project had the objective of developing an approach to reporting on groundwater levels and storage within aquifer systems throughout Victoria, to provide an understanding of the health or condition of a groundwater resource, targeting a varied audience.
To achieve this outcome, a reporting concept was developed using pared back hydrogeological principles, consultation with technical specialists, and consideration of the functionality and format of reporting outputs.
Hydrogeological principles were the focal point for both confined and unconfined groundwater systems, adding factors of influence to help 'build the story', such as groundwater development (use), rainfall recharge, depth to groundwater, proximity to waterways, saturated thickness of the (unconfined) aquifer, land use and changes to land use, and climate variability. These factors helped to define a baseline (or trigger) level on which management levels could be set, with specific confidence limits and review periods defined.
Consultation with academia and industry was paramount in developing a robust approach, or tailoring multiple approaches to specific hydrogeological settings.
Given the broad scale assessment (state-wide), this study applied statistics (normalisation of groundwater level data to provide a meaningful hydrograph output) to develop 'spatial suites' that comprise spatial areas containing groundwater monitoring bores that exhibit a comparable underlying hydrograph response. Suite hydrographs were developed and used to represent a much larger suite area. The Victorian Aquifer Framework was used as a basis in this process.
Application of principles was undertaken through 'proof of concept' case studies, which used actual groundwater level and abstraction data managed by the Victorian Government.
This project assisted the Victorian Government in developing robust techniques to report on groundwater level and storage condition. With further work, these approaches could be implemented to simplify government's management of groundwater resources, through assessment of trends and highlighting areas where conditions are 'not expected'.