Groundwater is water found in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It has accumulated from rainfall over long timeframes, and the quality of groundwater ranges from saline to very fresh. Groundwater supports a wide range of environmental and economic values across the Glenelg Hopkins region. Groundwater has a complex relationship with terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems. These relationships are highly variable and often poorly understood.

Groundwater is a reliable resource for a range of consumptive purposes where it is economical to access, yields sufficient volumes of water and the quality of water is suitable for use. Agriculture, town water supply, food processing, geothermal energy and thermal spas are groundwater users within the region.

Groundwater resources are described as aquifers, water-bearing layers of permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials1 (Figure 1). Access to groundwater varies across the region, mainly dependent on geology, water quality and water pressure. The depth from the surface to groundwater is a constraint to using the resource due to pumping costs.

Management of groundwater is challenging as physical processes are complex, hydrogeological terminology is highly technical, groundwater movements are not easy to observe, and recharge processes are also subject to long time lags.