22-27 September 2019
Trade Fairs and Congress Center (FYCMA)
Europe/Madrid timezone

Technical and economic feasibility of Managed Aquifer Recharge for irrigation development in Northern Australia.

23 Sep 2019, 15:15
Conference room 1.B ()

Conference room 1.B

Oral Topic 3 - Groundwater sustainability and governance Parallel


Dr Richard Evans (Jacobs)


Irrigation developments in northern Australia have had a checkered history due to many different factors – primarily the highly variable surface water sources and the poor economics of many of the crops grown. With the aim of improving the security of the water sources, the technical and economic feasibility of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) for irrigation development in selected regions in Northern Australia has been assessed. The technical assessment involved matching the MAR method with the varying hydrogeological environments to identify the most cost effective approach. This involved the use of recharge weirs for shallow aquifers and relatively shallow injection bores where deeper confined aquifers were the target. The source water is a small percentage of the wet season surface water flows. Specific characteristics of Northern Australia, namely the cost of transporting water, very high evaporation rates, the variability of wet season rainfall and the need for scalable water resource developments, make MAR an attractive alternative to large dams. So called “mosaic” irrigation, whereby many relatively small scale MAR based irrigation schemes are dispersed across northern Australia is the preferred model for development. Several sites in Western Australia and the Northern Territory were studied in detail to assess their technical and economic potential. Capital and operational costs were determined for various schemes and the levelized cost of the MAR schemes typically varied from A$120 to A$150/ML. The economic return from various crop types was determined and this showed that traditional fodder production for beef cattle production was not economic, whereas a variety of other crops were economic. This work showed that MAR based schemes are technically feasible in many locations, but choosing the most economic method and crop type requires careful judgement.

Primary author

Dr Richard Evans (Jacobs)


Mrs Kate Dowsley (Jacobs) Ms Louise Lennon (Jacobs)

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