Recharge estimation in the Surat Basin

November 2013December 2020
Data collected during the project helps estimate groundwater extraction volumes used in groundwater models which inform decisions regarding the management of the industry and plan water allocations.

Recharge estimation in the Surat Basin

This research measured for the first time the field recharge rates in representative type locations. It is being used for improved modelling confidence by The University of Queensland & the Queensland Government Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA).

The amount of water (flux) entering an aquifer as recharge is a critical factor in determining how water table levels change, the sustainable yields for groundwater extraction, and the impact of extractive industries on groundwater availability. However, the processes that govern this flux remain difficult to quantify, and are therefore considerable sources of uncertainty in modelling the groundwater balance and conducting impact assessments.

Due to the geological complexity of the Surat and Bowen Basins, recharge can occur via multiple pathways along the basin margins, principally within the ‘intake beds’, where various geological strata come to surface outcrop, but other less direct pathways may also be important. The amount of recharge varies greatly both geographically across these different pathways due to physical and climatic factors.

This research seeks to improve understanding of these recharge pathways and the variation in rates (in both space and time) across the basin. The research has been designed as a three-stage project combining desk-top review, workshops, fieldwork, and modelling.

Phase 1: Desk-top review, workshops and modelling provided an update on current understanding of recharge and identified opportunities for targeted field measurements to be conducted in Phase 2 to reduce uncertainty.

Phase 2: Conducted fieldwork which established a monitoring network to link the surface and subsurface hydrology, providing new knowledge of recharge processes including transience. The recharge models, recharge estimates and guidelines developed in Phase 1 will be updated in Phase 3 to include this new knowledge.

Phase 3: Established recharge estimates based on the data from three field sites. Established deep drainages estimates (publication pending) and gathered data flow regimes. A PhD on regional deep drainage assessment is currently underway (ongoing).



  • Project status: Ongoing
  • Project leader: Professor Neil McIntyre
  • Research team: Dr Greg Keir, Dr Carlos Ordens, Ms Nena Bulovic, Ms Louisa Rochford
  • Research group: The University of Queensland Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry & The University of Queensland Centre for Natural Gas (formerly known as The University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas)
  • Timeframe: Phase 1 (feasibility study): August 2013 - January 2014 & Phase 2 (Methodology development): January 2015 - December 2016; Phase 3-5 (metering consolidation and PhD research) October 2015 - December 2020
  • Project funders: APLNG, Arrow Energy, QGC, Santos, University of Queensland


Click here to see the Centre's full project portfolio