Cowaramup groundwater investigation

As part of our State Groundwater Investigation Program, we investigated the groundwater resources in the Cowaramup area to improve our understanding and help revise the volume of water available for sustainable, future use.

The Cowaramup area between Busselton and Margaret River is a popular tourist destination and wine-growing region. Aquifers became fully allocated in 1999. We investigated the groundwater resources in 2005–06 to improve our understanding of the area and help revise the volume of water available for sustainable, future use. We used the information from the investigation, combined with existing hydrogeological data, to develop a numerical groundwater flow model for the area and help make these decisions.

We increased the volume of groundwater available from the Leederville aquifer to 1.57 GL per year as a result of the investigation, helping to expand horticulture in this high-value area. We explain this increase in the South West groundwater areas allocation plan 2009.

This Cowaramup groundwater investigation was part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we did during the investigation

Through the Cowaramup investigation we:

  • installed 14 groundwater monitoring bores to a maximum depth of 230 metres to improve our understanding of the hydrogeology and groundwater resources
  • collected water-level data from 61 bores at 27 locations
  • assessed the groundwater age, hydrochemistry and groundwater dependence of permanent pools along the Margaret River
  • built a subregional numerical groundwater model to help evaluate groundwater abstraction impacts and identify areas sensitive to water-level declines – such as groundwater-dependent ecosystems and neighbouring users.

Key findings and how we are using the information

The investigation identified that 1.5 billion litres of groundwater per year was available for abstraction for the high-water-demand Margaret River wine region. We estimated that this water was worth around $1.5 million each year for the wine industry.

Ongoing monitoring data from the bores installed during the study help us manage groundwater resources through allocation plans, plan evaluations and licensing.

Where to get more details

You can download the following publications:

You can ask for copies of the internal technical reports for this investigation by emailing groundwater.info@dwer.wa.gov.au. These include:

  • Bore completion report for Cowaramup groundwater investigation, HR252 (Schafer 2006)
  • Cowaramup groundwater investigation, HR262 (Schafer, Johnson & Kern 2007)
  • Review of groundwater monitoring – Cowaramup investigation, HR270 (Tuffs 2008)
  • Groundwater resource assessment of the western Busselton-Capel groundwater area, HR273 (Schafer & Johnson 2009).

Go to our Water Information Reporting portal to access data from the monitoring bores installed during the investigation.

Read more about our groundwater investigations by region across Western Australia.

Page reviewed 8 August 2022