Urban water users rely heavily on surface water supplies distributed through the mains water system and to a lesser extent on water extracted from aquifers (bore water).
There are only limited opportunities to further exploit these resources. Continuing to extract large volumes of water from surface and groundwater systems will place significant stress on ecosystem health.
Through an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system at Torrens Valley Oval, Campbelltown Council has been able to reduce its dependency on irrigated water from the River Murray.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) schemes provide an opportunity to 'top-up' groundwater supplies by pumping clean water (rainwater, surface water and stormwater) underground to be used at a later date.
Aquifers are more efficient storage areas than lakes or ponds because there is no evaporation and a reduced risk of pollution.
Not all aquifers are suitable for storing additional water for reuse. Significant research and testing is required before a suitable location and scheme can be established.
Aquifer storage and recovery involves:
1. capturing water resources (such as stream flow or stormwater)
2. injecting the water into an underground aquifer
3. storing the water in the aquifer for a temporary period
4. extracting the water for use (for purposes such as irrigation or industrial uses)
Image Source: CSIRO Land & Water
Water may contain pollutants such as sediments, heavy metals, nutrients and bacteria.
Any water that is injected into an aquifer must first be tested and treated for any contaminants. The operation of an ASR scheme involves ongoing monitoring of water quality to protect the ecological integrity of the underground aquifer.
The operation of an ASR scheme requires authorisation from the Environment Protection Authority and a license from the Department for Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation.
The Max Amber Sportsfield ASR
Since 2003, an ASR System has been successfully operating at The Max Amber Sportsfield. Surface waters from Fifth Creek are collected during periods of high winter flow and stored underground. The water is retrieved during summer months to irrigate the sporting fields at The Max Amber Sportsfield.
In 2010, no water was collected and stored due to the water quality in Fifth Creek not meeting the EPA standards. An amount of 23 megalitres (ML) was extracted from the aquifer for irrigation. Council is currently investigating the cause of the water quality issues so that water can be cleaned and injection can recommence.