Groundwater plays an important role in the total water cycle and in the Port Phillip and Westernport region it is used for irrigation, commercial, stock and domestic purposes.
Even though groundwater is for most of us an ‘unseen’ asset, it plays a role in the health of water assets within the region. It interacts naturally with the flows of rivers and wetlands and contributes to their overall health.
Where the quantity and quality of the water in an aquifer is appropriate, significant amounts of groundwater can be pumped to the surface in bores and used for a range of purposes.
Like surface water, groundwater is recognised as a finite resource and its extraction from aquifers is managed by State Government agencies, in particular Southern Rural Water in this region. Like most natural assets finding the balance between use and overuse of this asset is a fine balancing act.
The natural salt content of groundwater is variable across different aquifers and is often a limiting factor in the ways that the groundwater can be used. For the protection of various other aspects of groundwater quality, the State Environment Protection Policy (Groundwaters of Victoria) is a key government policy setting standards and performance objectives.
Threats to groundwater include overuse, poor recharge due to lack of rain, and pollution. Pollution to groundwater may come from sources such as pesticides, leaking septic tanks, excessive application of fertiliser or from sources such as petrol stations or landfill.