Aerial mapping survey 'could save millions'

Claire TyrrellCountryman

The Department of Agriculture and Food WA's Gascoyne groundwater mapping survey could save millions of dollars, according to researchers.

Representatives from DAFWA and the Department of Water met growers in Carnarvon this month to present preliminarily results of the aerial survey, which began in March.

DAFWA principal research scientist Richard George said the helicopter survey had delivered promising results so far.

"We are seeing good information on groundwater salinity and information to help us target the location of new bores," he said.

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"There are millions of dollars of savings to be made because it gives the Department of Water better information to do allocations.

"Our goal is to produce a target map that drillers can use to locate bores."

Dr George said in the next month the department would release more specific information about the region's groundwater sources.

The helicopter survey is part of the State Government's Gascoyne Food Bowl Initiative and encompasses about 5km of Carnarvon's plantation area along the Gascoyne River.

Data was collected via a hexagon-shaped frame attached to a helicopter that flew as low as 30 metres above the ground.

Dr George said the survey would benefit agriculture in the region by building a better understanding of groundwater systems.

"The equipment records information on the geology and groundwater salinity from a few metres down to more than 100 metres deep," he said.

"An airborne electromagnetic survey allows us to look at the ground without disturbing the soil.

"The information we get from the survey will be publicly available and will be used to help locate new production bores to be used for agriculture, assist with mapping groundwater salinity and enable better groundwater management and decisions."

The helicopter survey ran from mid March until May 8.

More information about groundwater availability in the region will soon be released.

We are seeing good information on groundwater salinity and information to help us target the location of new bores. Richard George

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