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The challenge

Utilising brackish groundwater sources

Brackish groundwater sources have received little attention to date as they are poorly characterised compared to fresh water sources.

Brackish water sources could be unlocked for use during a drought. ©  iStock

But there is a need to better understand how brackish water can be utilised through desalination to either complement existing water supply or provide a new water source altogether.

Options for inland brine management, as well as opportunities to use renewable energy to power desalination technologies, need further investigation. 

Our response

Assessing Western Australia's brackish groundwater

Working with the Australian Government's National Water Grid Authority, we are collating available information on brackish groundwater sources in Western Australia (WA) to better understand their locations and water quality characteristics.

This characterisation work is needed to evaluate the potential opportunities and constraints for brackish water to be used to increase water security.

We are also reviewing available technologies that make brackish water safe and accessible for a range of uses including horticulture and remote community water supply. 

Our progress: Integrating data sets and assessing renewable energy sources

We have collated groundwater data from various agencies and developed and applied a process to integrate the datasets and ensure their formats are consistent and suitable for further analyses. We are undertaking a literature review of available and emerging desalination and brine management technologies.

We have compiled and mapped renewable energy (solar and wind) resource data for Western Australia and are converting that data into potential power availability to understand the opportunities to supply energy to inland desalination technology.

In addition, we have interviewed a wide range of stakeholder groups from both government and industry to better understand their needs for information on brackish groundwater desalination and inform our research and development.

The results

Supporting future management of brackish groundwater

We will collate, map and characterise the opportunities for brackish groundwater desalination across WA for the first time. 

Completion and reports are expected in 2025.

This information will support the future planning, investment and management of brackish groundwater, helping to improve Australia's water security. 


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