Fresh groundwater stored in Australian coastal aquifers constitutes an important resource for humans and the natural environment. However, many Australian coastal aquifers are vulnerable to seawater intrusion (SWI)—the landward encroachment of sea water into coastal aquifers—which can significantly degrade water quality and reduce freshwater availability. The increasing demands for fresh water in coastal areas and the anticipated impacts of climate change (such as sea-level rise and variations in rainfall recharge) may result in increases in the incidence and severity of SWI.
This Waterlines report identifies several opportunities to progress and develop effective resource management and protection of Australia’s coastal aquifers through additional monitoring, research, stakeholder education and communication.
An improved awareness and understanding of the key drivers for SWI, the current and emerging SWI vulnerable areas and possible future trends in SWI, will benefit decision makers and groundwater stakeholders across local, state and national levels. Development of a consistent approach for the assessment of SWI vulnerability will assist national, state and regional planning and management strategies.
Authored by KM Ivkovic, SK Marshall, LK Morgan, AD Werner, H Carey, S Cook, B Sundaram, R Norman, L Wallace, L Caruana, P Dixon-Jain and D Simon.