Water for towns, industry and agriculture can be sourced from both surface water and groundwater. In some areas, surface water is the primary resource, and water users will rely on groundwater only when surface water is unavailable. In some regional areas, particularly in arid and semi-arid Australia, groundwater is the only reliable source of fresh water. Used to irrigate crops and pasture for agricultural productivity, it is also relied on for stock and it provides reliable town water to many communities, particularly those in rural and remote areas. Individual households and community facilities in the region also rely on groundwater for irrigation. And many large-scale mining projects and the petroleum production industry either rely on groundwater for processing, or produce groundwater as a consequence of oil and gas production.

Australia’s reliance on groundwater supplies has increased in recent decades because of growing competition for surface water combined with frequent periods of drought, which rapidly deplete surface water supplies. Demand for groundwater is increasing due to development and growth pressures; perceived need to diversify water resources to complement existing supply;  and frequent drought, which increases pressure on surface water resources.


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