Frequently Asked Questions

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What information is included in the Explorer?

The Explorer includes more than 870 000 bore locations and bore data including:

  • construction logs
  • hydrostratigraphy logs
  • lithology logs
  • groundwater management areas
  • water levels
  • salinity.

Contextual layers can also be added and these include:

  • river regions
  • elevation
  • surface geology
  • sedimentary basins
  • landuse
  • irrigation areas.
Are all groundwater bores in Australia captured?

The Explorer presents more than 800000 groundwater bores provided by lead water agencies from each State and Territory. Not all bores are included in lead water agency groundwater databases. Bores drilled for geological or exploration purposes, are generally stored in a purpose built geological database held by State/Territory geological surveys.

If you believe a groundwater bore is missing, this could because:

  • The bore is less than a year old and the Explorer is updated annually
  • The bore is not included in your jurisdiction's groundwater database. If this is the case, you should contact the groundwater department in the lead water agency in your State or Territory
  • The bore is included in the jurisdiction's groundwater database but has not been added to the Explorer as it does not contain locational information.
How accurate are the bore locations?

Information contained in the Explorer, including bore locations, is provided by lead water agencies from each State and Territory. The accuracy of a bore's location can be determined from the method by which the location was derived. For example, a bore that has been surveyed will generally have a more accurate location than a bore where the position has been estimated from a map.

How is the 'purpose' of the bore being represented?

The Bureau collects over 50 different purposes for groundwater bores and these are displayed in the detailed results panel and when you export or download data.

These purposes are also displayed in the initial search results panel as nine primary purposes including: water supply; irrigation; stock and domestic; commercial and industrial; dewatering; monitoring; exploration; other; and unknown.

Does the Australian Groundwater Explorer replace jurisdictional groundwater databases and online data?

No. Jurisdictional databases typically contain a more comprehensive suite of groundwater chemistry data, while the Explorer contains a portion of the jurisdictional groundwater databases that has been nationally standardised. Jurisdictional databases remain to be the 'point of truth' for groundwater data.

Why is the bore ID different to the common name the bore is referred to locally or in the field?

The Bureau presents bore IDs that have been provided by each jurisdiction and does not keep a record of all aliases for each bore.

Why don't all bores have groundwater level graphs? What are the different groundwater level terms?

Groundwater level information can be presented using different terms or variables including:

  • depth to water (DTW): Measurements from the top of the ground surface to the groundwater level. Positive values are below the ground surface. Negative values are above the ground surface and indicate artesian conditions. This term is sometimes called depth below natural surface (DBNS).
  • standing water level (SWL): Measurements from the reference point on the bore (e.g. the top of casing) to the groundwater level. Positive values are below the reference point and negative values are above the reference point.
  • reduced standing water level (RSWL): The groundwater elevation relative to the Australian Height Datum (AHD). This is the standard height datum used in Australia which sets mean sea level as zero elevation. Positive values are above mean sea level and negative values are below.

Some bores have enough reference information (e.g. known distance to the ground surface and known elevation in AHD) to present the data using all three groundwater level terms. In this case, the bore will have three graphs in the Explorer. Other bores have limited reference information and only the DTW can be presented.

Groundwater level data is supplied to the Bureau by the lead water agencies in each State/Territory under the Water Regulations.

What does the data quality field in the water level and salinity tables mean?

The data quality field captures quality flags provided with the data by the data supplier. Each data supplier has their own quality flags for use in their jurisdictional database. Most data suppliers standardise their quality flags using the Bureau standard quality codes when delivering data to the Bureau.

Some data suppliers provide their data to the Bureau with jurisdictional quality codes that have not been standardised. The jurisdictional quality codes for groundwater levels and salinity are:

Quality codes Owner Description
NULL NSW, NT, SA, TAS, VIC, WA No code provided
1 NSW Unedited data; no data in the period have been adjusted from sensing system measurement in any way. Maximum discrepancy between the sensor reading and the reference point is +/- 5 mm.
80 NSW Pre 1 Nov 1996 - RATINGS - Rating processed prior to 1/11/96\044 coded estimated (poor)
100 NSW Quality unknown
130 NSW Not quality coded - subject to change
1 NT Good - continuous data
2 NT good quality - continuous data - some minor editing
6 NT Good Point data-manually entered which adequately represents continuous record
7 NT Good Isolated Point
45 NT Good Rating Extrapolated
51 NT Satisfactory - continuous data
52 NT Satisfactory - estimated continuous data
56 NT Satisfactory Point data-manually entered which adequately represents data
57 NT Satisfactory Isolated Point
81 NT Satisfactory WQ Result - uncontrolled sampling\044 lab results manually entered
82 NT Satisfactory WQ result - uncontrolled sampling\044 Lab analysis
83 NT Satisfactory WQ Result - uncontrolled sampling\044 lab results rechecked against lab sheets
85 NT Satisfactory WQ Result - uncontrolled sampling\044 lab results transferred from LIMS electronically
87 NT Satisfactory WQ Result - uncontrolled sampling\044 lab results transferred from VAX
89 NT Satisfactory WQ - Handheld device field reading
101 NT Poor - continuous data
102 NT Poor - estimated continuous data
106 NT Poor Point data manually entered
107 NT Poor Isolated Point
109 NT Estimated Data - original lost
131 NT Reserved For WQ 131-140
181 NT WQ manually entered
183 NT WQ re-checked against lab sheets
185 NT WQ transferred from Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) electronically
187 NT WQ transferred from VAX
unknown VIC, NSW Unknown
32 VIC, NT Good result - imported from Water Quality Branch spreadsheets
43 VIC State Observation Bore Network verified data
44 VIC Data from water corporations, other government agencies or consultants
45 VIC Data from universities or catchment management authorities
47 VIC Historic data from the Victorian Groundwater Management System

Quality codes are included in the Australian Groundwater Explorer so that users can be informed about the quality of data when using it. The Bureau does not control or review the quality flags provided by data suppliers. They are presented exactly as supplied. 

Further information is available from: 
http://www.bom.gov.au/water/standards/wdtf/ 
https://www.waterconnect.sa.gov.au/Water-Resources/Groundwater/SitePages/Home.aspx 
http://data.water.vic.gov.au/monitoring.htm 
https://www.waternsw.com.au/supply/regional-nsw/water-monitoring 

Why do some bores not have a bore log plot even though they had a log table?

Bore log plots are new functionality in the Australian Groundwater Explorer. They are currently being tested and rolled out across Australia. At this stage not all bore logs are available. The Bureau are working to improve the bore log plots and complete their coverage.

Why do some bore logs appear to have errors in the plots?

Bore log plots are new functionality in the Australian Groundwater Explorer. They are currently being tested and rolled out across Australia. The plots are created automatically from log tables. There are a huge number of logs in the Explorer. Some are incomplete or contain errors. The Bureau are working to improve the bore log plots.

What is hydrochemistry?

The hydrochemistry of water is more than simply H2O. Groundwater contains a variety of chemical elements at different concentrations, dissolved from the surrounding natural environment. Hydrochemistry, or 'water chemistry', is the study of water and the many dissolved minerals that make up its chemical composition.

Over 90% of chemical elements dissolved in groundwater are typically comprised of just seven ions known as major elements: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), potassium (K), chloride (Cl), sulphate (SO4), and bicarbonate (HCO3). Many other chemical elements are dissolved in much smaller concentrations and referred to as minor and trace elements. Small percentages of heavier and lighter versions of these elements (isotopes) are also present.

For more information, refer to 'How groundwater chemistry helps us understand the aquifer'.

What is groundwater hydrochemistry used for?

The hydrochemistry of all groundwater has a distinct chemical signature. This signature is unique, resulting from all the physical processes and chemical reactions that have influenced the groundwater. Groundwater originates as rainfall, which soaks into the ground and travels through rock and sediments (aquifers). This water can travel over short and long distances, and can range in age from recent rainfall to greater than 100 000 years old.

The processes that affect hydrochemistry, combined with the predominant chemical signature of groundwater, can provide a powerful tool for tracking groundwater flow.

Hydrochemistry can be very useful to answer many questions, such as:

  • Can this water be used for drinking, irrigation, or stock and domestic use?
  • How much can be pumped sustainably (i.e. where does groundwater come from and how long ago was it recharged)?
  • How old is the groundwater?

For more information, refer to 'How groundwater chemistry helps us understand the aquifer'.


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