South West (Scott River) groundwater investigation

This investigation has significantly improved our understanding of groundwater resources in the South West.
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Groundwater supports public drinking water supplies, horticulture, pasture production and mining in the vibrant South West region. Groundwater also supports the iconic Blackwood River system and the coastal wetlands that attract people to live in and visit the region. However, long-term groundwater availability is under threat from the combined pressures of high groundwater use and demand and a drying climate.

The four-year South West (Scott River) investigation has significantly improved our understanding of groundwater resources in the South West. It has helped to ensure the region has long-term water security for agriculture, industry and domestic purposes. It has provided further information to manage the risks of seawater intrusion and environmental impact from groundwater abstraction, while ensuring we better use the available water.

This groundwater investigation ran between 2012 and 2016 under the statewide Royalties for Regions Regional Water Availability program.

What we did during the investigation

We have:

  • collected almost 1,600 square kilometres of airborne electromagnetic (AEM), ground-based transient electromagnetic (TEM) and topographic data
  • completed isotope and chemistry sampling and analysis.
  • worked with expert scientists to study the connection between the Margaret, Capel, Blackwood, Donnelly and Warren rivers and the region’s major aquifers
  • developed a new South West Aquifer Modelling System (SWAMS), which supports groundwater management.

Key findings and how we are using the information

Through this project we:

  • located the boundary of the seawater interface within the three major aquifers in the region for the first time
  • calculated more precise recharge estimates considering rainfall, land use, depth to water and soil and geological conditions
  • confirmed groundwater supports flows in the Margaret, Capel, Blackwood, Donnelly and Warren rivers.

The investigation provided new information to improve the SWAMS model and informed the South west groundwater areas allocation plan 2009. We use the ongoing water monitoring data for regular evaluations of 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

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).

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