We rely on groundwater to sustain us, to irrigate our crops, to water stock and to service the needs of industry. Ensuring this essential resource is maintained, or enhanced in areas of degradation, is the cornerstone of effective groundwater management. Horizons currently monitors for groundwater quality and quantity across the Region to assess both the state and trends of the resource.

Our goal is to ensure this important resource is being managed sustainably to meet the needs of both water users and the environment.
Our role includes establishing effective water management zones, reviewing water allocation limits and ensuring that groundwater abstraction does not compromise minimum flows in rivers. A network of monitoring bores is maintained by Horizons to assess water levels and water quality across the Region. We also participate in national monitoring programmes for water quality, pesticides and herbicides, and groundwater age.

Water Quantity

All water users are strongly encouraged to use water as efficiently as possible and all consent holders are required to demonstrate efficient use of water as part of any application to take and use groundwater. To ensure groundwater is used sustainably, we currently monitor water use at 281 sites; and groundwater level at 138 manual and 19 automated sites. Data collected by Horizons not only helps us understand how groundwater is utilised, but also how the groundwater system stores and transports water. This in turn helps us advise the community on the availability of groundwater resources for future development.

Water Quality

Groundwater is used for a range of activities including stock water, irrigation, industry and domestic supply. Over half of all drinking water is sourced from the Region’s groundwater supplies.

Almost all water contains some chemicals, minerals, metals and/or salts in its natural state. As it flows through the earth it interacts with the rocks around it, changing its chemical composition as it goes.

Local geology is a major factor in the quality of groundwater in our Region and causes it to vary from one location to the next, but it’s also influenced by sources of recharge water such as rainfall that moves downward from the ground’s surface flow patterns.

Groundwater Bore and Water Permits

The Horizons Region contains groundwater that is accessed by hundreds of wells. Many of these wells provide the drinking water supply for private dwellings, groups of houses or towns and cities. Small groundwater takes of less than 50 m3/day generally do not require a permit to abstract water unless the use of that water is likely to affect another well owner or result in an adverse effect on the environment. Larger takes (greater than 50 m3/day) require a permit and applicants may be required to provide additional supporting information to help us assess the potential effects of the water take on surface water, neighbouring bores, and on the overall groundwater resource. This supporting documentation may include an efficiency test and/or an aquifer test (known as a pumping test) or a full assessment of environmental effects.

Landowners now require a consent to construct a new bore. To ensure groundwater bores are constructed to national standards, and groundwater use is accounted for, all groundwater bores are registered on our database. This helps us to identify bore owners that might be affected by any new groundwater takes, and helps us to protect groundwater bores from unnecessary contamination.

Useful Documents

Guidelines for Owners of Water Supply Wells
How safe is my well water?
How to Apply for a Groundwater Take Consent
Evaluation of Consent Applications to Take Groundwater
Groundwater Document for Owners of Flowing Artesian Bores
Pumping Test Guidelines