Northern Gascoyne River Borefield

The livelihood of many Carnarvon residents relies directly on groundwater. In the Northern Gascoyne River borefield project, Global Groundwater worked closely with clients and liaised with all stakeholders over a long period to achieve the desired outcome of responsible, sustainable groundwater development to support expansion of the horticultural industry and regional prosperity.

From the first plantings of banana suckers near Carnarvon in 1928 to now, the Carnarvon irrigation district has grown to be a vital horticultural precinct in Western Australia responsible for produce worth about $75,000,000 per annum. Plantations extend along both sides of the Gascoyne River from 5 to 20km upstream of the river mouth.

Groundwater drawn from a large alluvial aquifer beneath the Gascoyne River and recharged by river flows is the lifeblood of this horticultural precinct. Initially, private growers drew their own supplies from within or adjacent to their plantations but lack of supply and degrading water quality from over-pumping between river flows repeatedly caused problems during periods when river flows were infrequent. By the 1970s a public water supply area had been established on the south side of the river upstream of the plantations to about 50 km above the river mouth from which water was piped downstream to the plantations.

The public borefield on the south side of the river supplied the horticultural precinct with irrigation water from the 1970s until now and little interest was shown in developing the northern side of the river for additional groundwater supplies. However, in 2004, the Western Australian Government began evaluating the potential of the north side of the river to provide additional groundwater resources in support of opening more land for horticulture. Global Groundwater has worked closely with Government in conducting a groundwater exploration and development program that has seen the NGR established on the north side of the river to provide an additional 2.8 GL of low salinity groundwater for horticulture. The NGR borefield extends from about 20 to 30km upstream of the river mouth and plans are currently in place to increase capacity within its currently developed area to 3.6 GL and to extend the borefield a further 23.5 km upstream to access an additional 3.3 GL, depending on allocation limits established by the regulator.

Global Groundwater supervised the establishment of the NGR borefield for Government in several drilling programs in 2005/2006 and again in 2010. Bore data is available from our online database. We also assist Gascoyne Water Cooperative (GWC) who now operate the borefield, in meeting their regulatory requirements.