A lack of water security in Adelaide's drought prone western suburbs led to the creation of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) schemes in parks and sporting clubs. These have been increasingly successful in storing winter stormwater for use in the dryer months. During the wetter months, monitoring of groundwater levels optimises MAR Scheme operation.
The winter of 2016 was the wettest for fifteen years. This caused an increase in water available for groundwater recharge and a decrease in groundwater withdrawal, culminating in an increase in the pressure of the confined T1 aquifer. AGT monitored the groundwater levels as they became artesian. This was done using government monitoring well data combined with site data managed under MAR Risk Management and Monitoring Programs.
Groundwater levels in the T1 aquifer have not been this high for 25 years, and wells started to flow uncontrollably. As a result, aquifer recharge was forced to cease yet it took several months for water levels to drop. Wells were inspected to determine their condition and whether well integrity was the cause of uncontrollable flow.
To prepare for artesian conditions, wells near MAR schemes must be identified and appropriately licensed. To do this, MAR scheme models must consider cumulative impacts due to water use changes and climate changes to increase the success of responsible groundwater management practices in urban environments. Government policy aligning to assign responsibilities according to good groundwater management practices.