International Association of Hydrogeologists Australia

Tech Talk & AGM

Due to the location of our presenter we will be hosting this event online


Reflecting on groundwater exploitation: lessons from Barwon Downs

The link will be sent out with your RSVP

Link to May meeting and AGM

Because it is a hidden resource, groundwater is notoriously difficult to conceptualise and model, even for the most experienced hydrogeologists. The narrative of the development of the Barwon Downs borefield follows a familiar path in hydrogeological investigations, in which the early assessments of the groundwater resource are quite optimistic, usually based on conceptual models that visualise simple hydrogeological units. However, as more investigations occur, the geology unfolds as more complicated, the behavior of the groundwater under pumping is rarely as predicted, the models are revisited and revisions are made to the estimate volumes. Issues that were not initially considered begin to appear and the initial optimism is tempered with reality.A strong component in the narrative is that of the local community’s growing concern at their perceived impacts of the groundwater extraction, and the frustration at not having their concerns heard. The drying of the Yeodene Swamp and subsequent fires, acid generation events and fish deaths in Boundary Creek and the Barwon River were instrumental in the current cessation of operations and the implementation of environmental remediation. Significant effort has been made in recent years by the water authorities to engage with and empower the community on the issues relating to the impact of the Barwon Downs borefield.

About our speaker

Peter Dahlhaus is an Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow at Federation University Australia (Ballarat campus). Peter’s career spans over 40 years in engineering geology, environmental geology and hydrogeology, working in private and public sectors. With his colleagues at the Centre for eResearch and Digital Information (CeRDI), Peter’s current research focuses on making data, information and knowledge globally available. He is an educator, and independent advisor to communities and governments on soil and groundwater matters. Peter chairs the Independent Technical Review Panel for Southern Rural Water in relation to the Barwon Downs Remediation and Environment Protection Plan.


We will also have a short AGM included with this presentation where we will vote in new committee members for the Victorian branch. If you are interested in helping out with the committee we are a friendly bunch and would love to hear from you, the only requirement is that you are a paid up member for 2022! Please contact for more information..

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