International Association of Hydrogeologists Australia

IAH NSW – March Tech Talk

Hydrogeology of the Eastern Highlands

Presenter: Dr Len Drury

When: Tuesday 14th March, 17:30 for a 18:00 start
Where: Level 27, 680 George Street, Sydney


Dr Len Drury has over 50 years groundwater experience, initially as a Hydrogeologist with NSW State Government; then Principal Hydrogeologist/Director with Coffey; and Chief Technical Specialist for SMEC. In 2016 he and his wife founded Aqua Rock Konsultants. He has worked in 40 ‘Developing Countries’, delivering groundwater supplies to many refugee and displaced persons camps, over 4,000 villages, numerous towns and cities, and more than 150 mining projects. Dr Drury is currently working on Rawalpindi City water supply and Reko Diq Cu/Au Project, both in Pakistan.  He has trained more than 100 Hydrogeologists and written extensively on the Hydrogeology of Myanmar.

Water Supply and Community Bathing/Washing -Yaykyikhunitpauk Limestone Spring, (6ML/day), Shan State South

Synopsis – Hydrogeology of the Eastern Highlands

The Eastern Highlands of Myanmar encompasses five states (Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, and Shan) and the Tanintharyi Region. It occupies 50 percent of the country’s landmass, and 25 percent of its population. It stretches southwards for 2,000 kilometres from the Himalayas to Malaysia along north-south orientated, elevated mountain ranges bordering China, Laos and Thailand. The Eastern Highlands contains many ethnic minorities; has a high rate of poverty, poor education and health conditions; and lacks infrastructure and economic development. It is impacted by multiple armed conflict zones, unexploded ordnances, internally displaced persons, major earthquake alignments, and the drug cultivating ‘Golden Triangle’. It includes base metal and gold mines, globally renown jade and precious gem deposits, geothermal zones and major tectonic structures.

Despite civil unrest, travel restrictions, steep terrain and the Covid-19 pandemic, the groundwater resources of the Eastern Highlands were mapped over a two-year period.  Field work was complete before the February 2021 military coup. Groundwater is the primary water source for town, village, irrigation and commercial purposes. It includes a proliferation of large limestone springs, and dugwells and tubewells in various aquifer types. Groundwater maintains baseflow in the downgradient watercourses during the Dry Season, including the Ayeyarwady River, thus significantly contributing to the wellbeing of human habitation and the downstream ecological environment. Once democracy is returned, the detailed text-book may be published in English and Myanmar language. Along with the ‘Hydrogeology of the Dry Zone[1], two thirds of Myanmar’s groundwater resources will be comprehensively documented. This work was sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Australian Water Partnership.


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