Automated groundwater level mapping: a tool for catchment scale estimation of aquifer storage changes, fluxes and hydrogeological properties

Project Leader: Andrew Western
Staff: Andrew Western, Tim Peterson, Justin Costello
Collaborators: Chris McAuley (Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Vic.) Xiang Cheng (Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Vic.) Andrew Frost (The Bureau of Meteorology) Elisabetta Carrara (The Bureau of Meteorology) Joanna Ellis (Power and Water Corporation, Northern Territory)
Sponsors: The Australian Research Council - Linkage Project LP130100958, The Bureau of Meteorology, The Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Environment (Vic.), Power and Water Corporation (N.T.)
Primary Contact: Tim Peterson (
Keywords: environmental hydrology and water resources; groundwater; hydrology; numerical modelling; spatial analysis
Disciplines: Infrastructure Engineering
Domains: Optimisation of resources and infrastructure

Groundwater is a poorly understood, yet critical water resource. Australia's groundwater monitoring network measures the water level at 15,278 points, at an annual operating cost of $29M, and it has an asset replacement value of $136M (SKM, 2012). The contention of this project is that significantly more quantitative information can be extracted from this monitoring network than in the past. To achieve this, this project will develop and apply rigorous statistical methods to (1) quantify drivers on groundwater level and aquifer hydraulic properties and (2) map the monthly water table throughout Victoria over 23 years; and use these maps to quantify catchment-scale recharge and aquifer hydrogeological properties. These methods will be free to the public and scalable to the rest of Australia. A major outcome of the project will be a substantial improvement in our ability to account for our groundwater resource and to sustainably manage groundwater systems. It will also underpin significant improvements in our understanding of the hydrogeological properties and fluxes of our aquifers.

Two exciting PhD projects are now available to develop cutting-edge groundwater statistical tools for better groundwater management in Victoria and in remote indigenous communities throughout the Northern Territory. The working title for the Ph.Ds are:

  • “Statistical evaluation of the effectiveness of groundwater management plans for resource management and environmental protection during droughts”
  • “Time-series statistics for managing groundwater usage and impacts within Northern Territory indigenous communities”

For Ph.D. position descriptions please email Dr. Tim Peterson at The successful applicants will receive a stipend of $34,653 p.a. tax-free (after top-up to a university scholarship) and will be given considerable intellectual freedom and the opportunity to present findings at international conferences. Applications must be received by Monday 14th October 2013.

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage program (project number LP130100958), the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (Vic.) and the Power and Water Corporation (Northern Territory).

Probablistic estimate of depth to water table for summer 2008.