Aerial survey of groundwater resources in the Great Southern

Published on Wednesday, 24 April 2024 at 8:26:50 AM

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is working with national science agency CSIRO and local governments to map groundwater resources in the Great Southern.

A helicopter will be used to conduct an aerial electromagnetic (AEM) survey of the Beaufort River area across the shires of Woodanilling, West Arthur and Kojonup.

DPIRD senior principal research scientist Richard George said the Beaufort palaeochannel survey would help to identify groundwater resources and suitability for agriculture and community use.

“The information will be used to map the aquifer and complete a groundwater resource assessment,” Dr George said.

“The AEM survey method measures the changes in conductivity, an indicator of soil and water salinity, of the ground.

“AEM techniques were developed specifically for land and groundwater assessments. They have been used several times in recent decades in the Wheatbelt to understand how salinity and groundwater vary beneath the landscape.

“The data collected will tell us more about the groundwater, so that both local and state government, and landowners, can better understand water in the region.”

The survey is due to begin on 29 April, taking about two weeks and covering approximately 67,000 hectares.

“A helicopter AEM system is a quick, cost-effective and non-invasive method to map the area as it can provide detailed information in a very short period,” Dr George said.

“The helicopter will be low flying and the community will see the aircraft while the survey is being carried out.”

Helicopter AEM systems carry transmitter and receiver coils mounted in a frame that hangs beneath the helicopter.

The work is being carried out under the WaterSmart Farms initiative, supported by the Western Australian Government, which aims to improve water security and build resilience in a drying climate.

More information on the survey is available by contacting Dr George on

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