Groundwater investigations - Perth-Peel region

Details about our active and completed groundwater investigations in the Perth-Peel region
Map showing the locations of groundwater investigations in the Perth-Peel region
Perth-Peel groundwater investigations map

Please note the Swan Avon and Kwinana-Peel regions have been combined to make up the Perth-Peel region.

You can read about our investigations in the Perth-Peel region below.

Murray-Peel groundwater investigation

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The Murray groundwater area in state’s south-west is a rich and diverse environment with established agricultural and mining industries, all of which rely on groundwater. Abstraction, increasing demand for water and climate change are putting its groundwater resources under increasing pressure. The Murray groundwater allocation plan 2012 identified the need for better groundwater information and monitoring of the deeper aquifers to support the ongoing sustainable management of the resource.

We investigated the Murray-Peel area from 2011 to 2013 as part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we did during the investigation

Through the Murray-Peel groundwater investigation we:

  • drilled 3,181 metres and installed a total of 19 groundwater monitoring bores into the Superficial, Leederville and Cattamarra aquifers
  • collected samples to analyse palynology (pollen grains and other spores) to determine the age and sequence of aquifer deposition
  • sampled and analysed groundwater chemistry from 28 bores across the project area to better understand the age of the aquifers and groundwater, sources of salinity, recharge and connectivity between aquifers, and groundwater residence times and flow paths.

In 2020 we flew an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey over the area to refine the findings of the investigation.

Key findings and how we are using the information

This investigation expanded the groundwater monitoring bore network and refined our understanding of groundwater resources in the Murray groundwater area. We will continue to monitor the new bores to support future allocation planning and regularly evaluate aquifer performance.

Where to get more details

You can download the Murray groundwater allocation plan 2012.

You can ask for the bore completion report for the Murray-Peel groundwater investigation, HR342 (Macaulay et al. 2016) by emailing groundwater.info@dwer.wa.gov.au.

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

You can access all government-commissioned airborne geophysical surveys via the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website and download them free of charge from ‘Geophysical Surveys’ in GeoVIEW.WA or from the Geophysical Archive Data Delivery System (GADDS).

Kings Park Formation – WESROC Partnership

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The western suburbs of Perth rely heavily on groundwater to irrigate public open space and residential gardens. Declines in Superficial aquifer water levels and quality present a risk to long-term water security and groundwater-dependent wetlands such as Lake Claremont and Perry Lakes. Potential leakage through the underlying Kings Park Formation induced by deep aquifer abstraction was considered responsible for declining groundwater levels, along with climate change and abstraction from the Superficial aquifer.

We investigated the Kings Park Formation in partnership with the Western Suburbs Regional Organisation of Councils (WESROC) and the Town of Cambridge. We aimed to better understand the evolution of the Kings Park Formation and how it impacted groundwater flow in the surrounding aquifers.

We completed the investigation in 2020 as part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we did during the investigation

During the investigation we:

  • drilled a total of 2,632 metres and installed 25 monitoring bores in the Superficial, Mullaloo, Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers
  • collected and analysed 71 groundwater samples and 21 surface water samples
  • worked with Curtin University to complete three seismic and seven Electrical Resistivity Imaging surveys
  • developed a 3D geological model of the project area, mapping out the Kings Park palaeochannel under Perth
  • developed new Superficial aquifer groundwater recharge estimates using a combination of land use (urban monitor remote sensing data), groundwater levels, chloride mass balance and groundwater age dating.

Key findings and how we are using the information

Key findings from the investigation included:

  • Deep aquifer abstraction does not impact Superficial aquifer levels in the project area.
  • The Mullaloo Sandstone aquifer could be a potential target for managed aquifer recharge in the future.
  • We now have better estimates of groundwater recharge in the area, based on multiple lines of evidence and applying new methods in partnership with the CSIRO.

We will use the improved monitoring data and hydrogeological understanding to support the assessment of alternative water supplies, such as managed aquifer recharge, in the Perth’s western suburbs. The results will also inform future water allocation planning, Integrated Water Supply Scheme planning and groundwater licensing.

Where to get more details

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

  • Hydrogeological investigation of the Kings Park Formation, Perth, Western Australia: Review and scoping report, HR381 (Clohessy 2017)
  • Bore completion report: Kings Park Formation groundwater investigation, HR397 (Davey et al. 2019).

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

You can access all government-commissioned airborne geophysical surveys via the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website and download them free of charge from ‘Geophysical Surveys’ in GeoVIEW.WA or from the Geophysical Archive Data Delivery System (GADDS).

North-East Corridor and Swan Valley investigation

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The North-East Corridor is a priority urban growth area where groundwater resources are at, or near full allocation. Alternative water sources may be required to meet the local water needs of the corridor. The Swan Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine-producing regions and is a popular tourist destination for local, interstate and international visitors. Swan Valley horticulture, viticulture and agritourism all rely on groundwater. Declining groundwater levels and increasing salinity is threatening the sustainability of these industries.

The North-East Corridor and Swan Valley investigation aims to refine our understanding of the groundwater system. Its results will help us with allocation planning and water licensing. It will also show us where alternative water supplies, such as managed aquifer recharge, could be located.  

This investigation began in 2019 and is due to finish in 2023. It is part of our State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we are doing for the investigation

So far we have:

  • completed an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey across over 3,000 kilometres
  • collected groundwater and surface water samples from nearly 200 locations for analysis.

Next we will:

  • install groundwater monitoring bores in the Leederville aquifer to expand the monitoring network and collect groundwater levels
  • collect more chemistry and isotope data across the area to help quantify recharge and aquifer connectivity.

We will use the data from this project to develop a map of potential areas for managed aquifer recharge.

Where to get more details

You can request more information by emailing groundwater.info@dwer.wa.gov.au.

You can access all government-commissioned airborne geophysical surveys via the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website and download them free of charge from ‘Geophysical Surveys’ in GeoVIEW.WA or from the Geophysical Archive Data Delivery System (GADDS).

North Gnangara groundwater investigation

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The Gnangara groundwater system is Perth's largest source of low cost, good quality water. It supplies almost half of all the water used in the Perth metropolitan area each year (for drinking water, public open space irrigation, domestic garden watering and agriculture, among others). Perth’s lakes, wetlands and bushlands also depend on the Gnangara groundwater system. The Water Corporation uses about 40 per cent of the water abstracted from the Gnangara system to supply the Integrated Water Supply Scheme, servicing most households and businesses in the Perth and Peel regions.

The North Gnangara groundwater investigation aimed to improve our knowledge of the hydrogeology around the Yeal Nature Reserve, west of Gingin. We now better understand where and how the Superficial, Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers connect in this area. We also have a better indication of how pumping from deeper aquifers may impact Superficial aquifer levels and potentially affect groundwater-dependent ecosystems.

The North Gnangara groundwater investigation finished in 2009 in partnership with the Water Corporation. The project was part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program and the Australian Government’s Water Smart Australia program.

What we did during the investigation

During this investigation we:

  • constructed 65 monitoring bores in the Superficial, Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers
  • installed automatic dataloggers in 49 bores, which record water levels at six-hourly intervals
  • worked with Curtin University to improve our understanding of stratigraphy by completing more than 50 kilometres of seismic surveys.
  • built a 3D conceptual model of the North Gnangara area.

Key findings and how we are using the information

The key findings from this investigation helped us to:

  • delineate a hydraulic ‘window’ where there is a direct connection between the Yarragadee and Superficial aquifers – abstraction from the Yarragadee aquifer may impact Superficial aquifer groundwater levels in this ‘window’
  • identify how the Yarragadee and Leederville connect in the Yeal area
  • suggest that faulting was a more critical structural control than folding
  • map where the Parmelia Formation separates the Leederville Formation into two distinct entities.

We have used the information to create a more accurate conceptual hydrogeological model and improve the Perth Regional Aquifer Modelling System (PRAMS). We have also used the data from this investigation to manage potential impacts to groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the Yeal area and manage deep aquifer abstraction and reinjection for public supply.

Where to get more details

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

  • North Gnangara bore completion report, HR277 (Pigois 2009)
  • Conceptual geology of the north Gnangara Mound, HR288 (Pigois 2009).

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

You can access all government-commissioned airborne geophysical surveys via the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website and download them free of charge from ‘Geophysical Surveys’ in GeoVIEW.WA or from the Geophysical Archive Data Delivery System (GADDS).

Shallow Groundwater Systems investigations – Perth

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The Gnangara and Jandakot mounds are the most significant groundwater resources in Western Australia, supporting a variety of horticultural, agricultural, industrial, domestic and recreational needs. They also support numerous groundwater-dependent features with high environmental, social and cultural value.

Declines in regional groundwater levels threaten the environmental, social and cultural values of lakes and wetlands. We need to increase our understanding of how groundwater interacts with lakes and wetlands to support the sustainable management of these systems.  

The Perth Shallow Groundwater Systems (SGS) investigations ran from 2007 to 2011. We investigated 10 representative wetlands on the Swan coastal plain to better understand how groundwater supports the environment.

What did the investigation did, and how the information is being used

We have:

  • redesigned and upgraded monitoring networks
  • identified where surface water and groundwater connect
  • provided an understanding of how lakes functioned in the past and the present
  • improved our knowledge of the chemistry of wetlands and wetland sediments.

Findings from the Perth SGS investigations support the ongoing management of groundwater abstraction from the Gnangara and Jandakot systems.

Where to get more details

You can download the following reports from the Perth SGS investigations:

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

Perth Region Confined Aquifer Capacity (PRCAC) study

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Groundwater in Perth supplies nearly 40 per cent of Perth’s scheme water. The deep Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers supply most of that 40 per cent. Groundwater also supports many wetlands and lakes, as well as urban development and horticulture, and is the reason we have green ovals and parks for sports and recreation

The $7 million Perth Region Confined Aquifer Capacity (PRCAC) study was a four-year project that improved our understanding of:

  • how the Leederville, Yarragadee and Superficial aquifers interact
  • where the recharge zones exist in the deeper aquifers
  • how groundwater abstraction and injection of recycled water impact groundwater levels.

PRCAC investigated the capacity for continued groundwater abstraction from the deep Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers. It also considered how and where managed aquifer recharge would be most effective to support groundwater use into the future.

We used this study to:

  • decide, with the Water Corporation, on the best injection and abstraction locations for Stage 2 of the Beenyup Groundwater Replenishment Scheme
  • develop long-term management strategies on groundwater abstraction from the Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers.

What we did during the PRCAC study

We partnered with leading research institutions and and the Water Corporation to conduct this study from 2012 to 2016. We have built on the work since then by investing in science to understand the aquifer systems below greater Perth.

Through this study we:

  • constructed seven deep aquifer monitoring bores to a maximum depth of around 900 metres
  • collected information from monitoring bores to understand groundwater age, flow directions and connectivity across faults
  • completed seismic surveys to determine the location of faults that could impact groundwater flow
  • flew an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey to identify faults and where aquifers may be connected
  • refined the Perth Regional Aquifer Modelling System (PRAMS)
  • assessed seawater interface movement in the offshore Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers with Flinders University

Key findings and how we are using the information

Key findings from this investigation include:

  • The abstraction volume from the Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers is constrained mainly by connection to the Superficial aquifer, where watertable drawdown potentially impacts groundwater-dependent ecosystems.
  • There is generally a low risk of seawater intrusion in the deep aquifers.
  • The risk of subsidence from deep aquifer abstraction is minor.
  • Choosing optimal locations for aquifer injection (also known as replenishment) can:
    • bolster deep aquifer pressures
    • reduce leakage from the Superficial aquifer
    • help recover groundwater levels at high-value groundwater-dependent ecosystems and in other important areas
    • allow for full recovery of injected water while maximising the use of the deep aquifers for scheme supply.
  • There is potential for additional water to be abstracted from the Leederville aquifer west of the Badaminna fault (north of Yanchep). However, further work is needed to quantify sustainable allocation limits and the potential impacts of abstraction.

Where to get more details

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

  • Perth Region Confined Aquifer Capacity study – Aquifer assessment: review and scoping report, HR351 (Clohessy 2015)
  • Bore completion report, Perth Region Confined Aquifer Capacity study, HR364 (Rothery 2016)
  • Perth region Leederville and Yarragadee aquifer reinterpretation report, HR363 (Maidment & Rothery 2016)
  • Assessment of PRAMS modelling completed for the Perth Region Confined Aquifer Capacity Study, HR365 (Karelse 2016)
  • Assessment of the potential for saline intrusion into the Perth Region Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers, HR366 (Patterson 2016)
  • Perth Regional Confined Aquifer Capacity study: Method for assessing impacts at groundwater-dependent ecosystems on Gnangara, HR368 (Hammond 2016)
  • Perth Region Confined Aquifer Capacity Study: Groundwater chemistry and isotope survey, Perth, Western Australia, HR370 (Clohessy 2017)
  • Lake Nowergup: Factors in declining lake and groundwater levels (Global Groundwater 2015).

You can also download a summary report describing the study and its findings.

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

Published journal papers

Morgan LK, Werner AD & Patterson AE 2018, ‘A conceptual study of offshore fresh groundwater behaviour in the Perth Basin (Australia): Modern salinity trends in a prehistoric context’, Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, vol. 19, pp 318–334, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrh.2018.10.002

Siade AJ, Hall J & Karelse RN 2017, ‘A practical, robust methodology for acquiring new observation data using computationally expensive groundwater models’, Water Resource Research, vol. 53, Issue 11, https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017WR020814

Gingin–Cowalla groundwater investigation

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We investigated groundwater resources in the Gingin–Cowalla area to help manage the groundwater resources around Seabird, where an expansion of horticulture was driving increased demand for groundwater.

This investigation significantly improved the groundwater monitoring network, increased our knowledge of the Superficial aquifer, and now provides ongoing monitoring data to evaluate the impact of abstraction and climate change on the resource.

This investigation ran from 2005 to 2006 as part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we did during the investigation

Through the Gingin–Cowalla groundwater investigation we installed 10 shallow monitoring bores into the Superficial aquifer within the Seabird, Karakin Lakes, North Moore River Park and Guilderton North subareas of the Gingin groundwater plan area.

Key findings and how we are using the information

The long-term, systematic collection of water-level data from the bores we installed as part of this study has provided critical data to help evaluate changes in aquifers and groundwater resources over time.

Data collected from the new bores also helped us develop the Gingin groundwater allocation plan 2015. We continue to monitor these bores and regularly evaluate the groundwater resources.

Where to get more details

You can download the Gingin groundwater allocation plan 2015.

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 Gingin superficial aquifer groundwater investigation, HR254 (Lindsay 2006)
  • Groundwater resource review – Gingin-Cowalla Rd, HR272 (Tuffs 2008).

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

North Gingin groundwater investigation

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In the Gingin area, 100–200 kilometres north of Perth, the climate is drying and demand for groundwater resources for agriculture is increasing.

We investigated the North Gingin groundwater resources to improve monitoring, update our hydrogeological understanding and make new recharge estimates across the plan area – particularly in the regionally significant coastal Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers.

Our updated recharge estimates suggest that additional groundwater may be available from confined areas of the Gingin coastal Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers. We will use these revised estimates as part of future allocation planning in the area.

This investigation ran from 2012 to 2015 as part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we did during the investigation

Through the North Gingin investigation we:

  • drilled 8,763 metres and installed 29 groundwater monitoring bores to a maximum depth of 1,022 metres
  • analysed the water chemistry of 36 bores
  • used three methods to estimate recharge: chloride mass balance, watertable fluctuation and Darcy’s Law
  • estimated the location of the seawater interface using new bores and analytical methods.

Key findings and how we are using the information

Key findings from the investigation include:

  • We better understand where the Gage Sandstone is present. This part of the Yarragadee aquifer has lower bore yields and reduced throughflow. We will use the updated regional conceptualisation from the drilling program to update future versions of the Perth Region Aquifer Modelling System (PRAMS).
  • New recharge estimates suggest the presence of additional groundwater from the Gingin coastal confined Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers. We will factor the updated recharge estimates into future Gingin allocation plan reviews.
  • The seawater interface is 3 to 5 kilometres onshore in the southern coastal superficial subareas, about 1 kilometre onshore in the northern coastal superficial subareas, and likely to be 10 to 15 kilometres offshore in the confined aquifers. We can use information from the bores installed during the investigation to monitor seawater intrusion in the aquifers over time.

We used these findings to help develop the Gingin groundwater allocation plan 2015. We will continue to monitor the new bores to sustainably manage groundwater in the area.

Where to get more details

You can download the Gingin groundwater allocation plan 2015.

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

  • North Gingin bore completion report, HR353 (Tuffs 2016)
  • Geology and hydrogeology of the north Gingin area, HR411 (Tuffs 2019)
  • Northern Perth Basin Bulletin.

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

East Midlands groundwater investigation

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The CSIRO has listed Gingin Brook and aquifers on the Dandaragan Plateau as one of the water resources most affected by climate change in south-western Australia. Water demand is increasing, water resources are fully allocated, and there are declines in groundwater levels around the high-value Gingin Brook. The Gingin groundwater allocation plan 2015 encourages users to move further north of Gingin Brook, where groundwater levels are either stable or rising, and abstraction is more spread out and not having the same impacts on surface water features.

The East Midlands investigation will help us provide certainty for agricultural water supply while balancing the environmental and social values that depend on groundwater.

Due to end in 2022, this investigation is part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

What we are doing for the investigation

So far we have:

  • completed an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey over 8,200 square kilometres and used this data to guide drilling locations
  • drilled 5,438 metres and constructed 26 groundwater monitoring bores at 14 sites to a maximum depth of 420 metres
  • developed a new detailed borehole analysis approach to get more information out of our geophysical logs with minimal costs
  • produced 3D layers of major hydrogeological layers and faults in the Dandaragan Plateau and defined shallow-aquifer salinity in partnership with Curtin University
  • installed groundwater-level dataloggers in the project monitoring bores and collected time-series water-level data in target aquifers
  • carried out chemistry and isotope sampling across the newly installed bores and surface water/groundwater interaction sites along the Gingin Brook.

Key findings and how we will use the information

When complete, findings from this project will inform future allocation and licensing strategies on the Dandaragan Plateau between Gingin and Moora.

Where to get more details

You can ask for a copy of the internal technical report for the East Midlands project (HR413, Filipstova et al. 2020) by emailing groundwater.info@dwer.wa.gov.au.

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

You can access all government-commissioned airborne geophysical surveys via the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website and download them free of charge from ‘Geophysical Surveys’ in GeoVIEW.WA or from the Geophysical Archive Data Delivery System (GADDS).

Gingin Brook and groundwater interaction

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Gingin Brook is a unique freshwater perennial brook north of Perth with historic, cultural and environmental values. There has been widespread growth along the brook for horticulture, cattle grazing, market gardens, large orchards, fertilised pasture for grazing and semi-rural residential development. Development is restricted mainly to within one to two kilometres of the brook, with water either pumped directly from the brook or production bores in adjacent aquifers.

Abstraction, channel modification and the drying climate have significantly modified the brook’s hydrology, and now there is no summer flow in some sections of the brook. In the lower reaches, where the brook meanders across the Swan coastal plain, the relationship between baseflow in the brook, groundwater discharge, and surface/groundwater connection was unclear.

We investigated groundwater connectivity to the brook from 2007 to 2009 as part of our flagship State Groundwater Investigation Program.

This project significantly improved our understanding of how the brook interacts with the groundwater system. The new groundwater monitoring network provides data to help us evaluate and manage the system over time.

What we did during the investigation

Through the Gingin Brook investigation we:

  • installed 32 monitoring bores at 16 sites along Gingin Brook and its tributaries – Moondah and Mungala brooks
  • collected samples to analyse palynology (pollen grains and other spores) to determine the geological formations present
  • analysed chemistry of groundwater samples
  • installed dataloggers in bores, which measure groundwater levels every six hours
  • collected surface water levels and flows at two gauging stations and undertook spot gauging of streamflow between February 2007 and September 2009.

Key findings and how we are using the information

The investigation found that:

  • Groundwater discharge provides baseflow to the brook in two main areas – downstream of the confluence with Mungala Brook and in the upper catchment north-east of Gingin townsite.
  • There is evidence of groundwater discharge to the brook from the deeper Leederville aquifer.
  • There is a high level of connection between the brook and groundwater in some areas.

We used the findings from this investigation to help develop strategies to improve flow conditions in the brook. These include limiting summer surface water abstraction and implementing a buffer zone around the brook to limit groundwater abstraction impacts.

We used the findings and recommendations to inform the Gingin surface water allocation plan 2011 and the Gingin groundwater allocation plan 2015. We continue to collect monitoring data to evaluate the groundwater resource.

Where to get more details

You can download the following:

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

  • Pre-investigation review of the Gingin Brook project, HR258 (Lindsay et al. 2007)
  • Gingin Brook bore completion report, HR275 (Tuffs 2009)
  • Groundwater-surface water interaction along Gingin Brook, Western Australia, HR286 (Tuffs 2010)
  • Northern Perth Basin Bulletin.

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

Page reviewed 8 June 2022