Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
Bookpurnong, South Australian Riverland
State & Federal Government
The Bookpurnong Living Murray Pilot Project is the best example to date, anywhere, of the application of groundwater pumping to deliver ecological benefits in the Murray-Darling Basin. For the Pilot Project, AWE provided a range of detailed hypotheses to be tested, supported by detailed sampling plans, monitoring methodologies, strategies and monitoring timetables.
At that time, proposed tree management strategies and predictive models had focussed on improving tree health through increasing the thickness of the unsaturated zone and hence reducing evaporative concentration of salt in the soils. AWE identified that an alternative approach was to reduce the salinity of the water table, without manipulating the depth to water, thereby reducing the salinity of the soil water in the unsaturated zone. This approach opened the door to a range of new groundwater manipulation strategies that could be employed to facilitate the development of a fresh water lens over shallow, saline groundwater.
Results from the Pilot Project continue to reveal insights into surface water, groundwater and vegetation interactions. The outcomes from this project have also provided a precedent for new, innovative, floodplain management programs, that include groundwater management such as the South Australian Riverland Integrated Infrastructure Program (SARFIIP) at the Pike and Katarapko Floodplains.