Article thumbnail

The hydrogeology of the Condamine River alluvial aquifer (Australia) – a critical review

By Elad Dafny and Mark D. Silburn


The Condamine plain is an important agricultural zone, with ~118 thousand hectares of irrigated crops. Groundwater pumped from the shallow alluvial aquifer (40-60 GL/yr) accounts for one third of the irrigation water. Sustainable agriculture future implies, among other issues, a reliable supply of groundwater to the farmers, in terms of quality and quantity. The hydrogeology of the shallow Condamine River Alluvium Aquifer (CRAA) was studied for decades in order to provide a management framework and to determine the 'safe yield', as excessive pumping in the past has led to ongoing decline of the water table, up to ~25m in places. Not withstanding the accumulating data and knowledge, the water balance of the aquifer as well as 'safe yield' estimations are still far from being conclusive and has been substantially revised several times during the last decade. The present report, conducted at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), collates up-to-date hydrogeological knowledge regarding the CRAA, critically evaluates the accepted hydrogeological conventions, highlights puzzling phenomena and recommends needed work, which can be implemented in a rather expeditious and inexpensive fashion, to overcome the existing knowledge gaps. Refining the hydrogeological knowledge regarding the CCRA is timely, as in the last decade there has been a rapid expansion of the CSG industry in vicinity to the Condamine plain, with the aim to extract methane from the underlying layers. The presumed hydrogeological effects of CSG production upon the shallower CRAA have been delineated but are yet to be adequately quantified. It is our view that the hydrogeological knowledge-gaps should be addressed before predictions of CSG activities effects can be made

Publisher: University of Southern Queensland
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1990). A Groundwater Flow Model of the Condamine Groundwater Management Area. Queensland Water Resources, Water Resources Assessment Division, Water Assessment Group, Groundwater Section. doi
  2. (1995). A unified soil property and sodicity model of salt leaching and water movement.
  3. Activity 6.1 – Injection of coal seam gas water into the Central Condamine Alluvium: Technical feasibility assessmentFinal Report. Prepared for the Healthy HeadWaters Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study, Department of Environment and Resource Management,
  4. (1989). An investigation for groundwater recharge potential in the upper Condamine valley Queensland. Thesis, Darling downs institute of advance education,
  5. (2010). APLNG Coal Seam Gas project. Groundwater model update.
  6. (2012). Arrow Energy Surat gas project - groundwater Impact assessment report.
  7. Berger Ltd (KCB), 2010b. Central Condamine Alluvium Stage II Conceptual Hydrogeology Study. Prepared for the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.
  8. (2001). Best management practices to minimise below root zone impacts of irrigated cotton. Final Report to the MurrayDarling Basin Commission (Project I6064),
  9. (2010). Central Condamine Alluvium Data Availability Report. prepared for the Queensland Department of Environment
  10. (2009). Coal seam gas field component for Environmental Impact Statement -QGC groundwater study Surat Basin,
  11. (1976). Condamine recharge investigation –
  12. (1982). Condamine River Valley Groundwater Investigation. The Hydrogeology, Hydrology & Hydrochemistry of the Condamine River Valley Alluvium. Volume 1 (text).
  13. (1966). Condamine Valley groundwater investigations - Hydrogeological report on Eight 1:50,000 Map Sheets”. Unpublished report, Geological Survey of Queensland.
  14. (1974). Condamine Valley Groundwater Investigations – Hydro-geological investigation of the area between Oakey and Leyburn. Geological Survey of Queensland,
  15. (1971). Condamine Valley investigations – Analysis of pump tests on private bores – Macalister to Leyburn. Unpublished report, Irrigation and Water Supply Commission,
  16. (1999). Conjunctive water use study – upper Condamine River interim report. Prepared for Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Department of Natural Resources, Darling Downs vision
  17. (2011). Deep drainage and soil salt loads in the Queensland MurrayDarling Basin using soil chloride: comparison of land uses. doi
  18. (2003). Deep drainage estimates under a range of land uses in the Queensland Murray– Darling Basin using water balance modelling.
  19. (2004). deep drainage in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin using soil chloride. doi
  20. (2011). Deep drainage rates of Grey Vertosols depend on land use in semi-arid subtropical regions of Queensland, Australia. Soil Research. doi
  21. (2011). Deep drainage through Vertosols in irrigated fields measured with drainage lysimeters. doi
  22. (2013). Deep Drainage under irrigated cotton in Australia – A review. Chapter 1.5, In: WATERpak— a guide for irrigation management in cotton.
  23. (2003). Effluent Reuse Study – Darling Downs. South east Queensland effluent reusetreated effluent irrigation on the darling downs.
  24. (1997). Estimates of deep percolation beneath cotton in the Macquarie Valley. doi
  25. (1991). Geochemistry of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin, doi
  26. (1976). Geology of the Surat Basin in Queensland.
  27. (2006). Great Artesian Basin - transient groundwater model.
  28. (2010). Groundwater connections between the Walloon Coal Measures and the Alluvium of the Condamine River. Report prepared for the Central Downs Irrigators Limited, dated
  29. (2011). Groundwater recharge through Vertisols: Irrigated cropland versus natural land, doi
  30. (1997). Groundwater salinity trends in the northern Murray-Darling basin. MurrayDarling basin workshop,
  31. (1999). Groundwater Vulnerability and Availability Mapping of the Upper Condamine River Catchment. Queensland Department of Natural Resources,
  32. (2006). Hydrogeological Investigation of the Northeast Darling Downs Region,
  33. (2005). Irrigation application efficiency and deep drainage potential under surface irrigated cotton. doi
  34. (1996). Irrigation increases groundwater recharge in the Macquarie Valley. doi
  35. (1975). Land inventory and technical guide Eastern Darling Downs Area Queensland. Division of Land Utilisation Technical Bulletin No.7. Queensland Department of Primary Industries,
  36. (2012). Measuring deep drainage under irrigated cotton with the A.C.R.I.
  37. (1999). Predicting the effect of vegetation changes on catchment average water balance.
  38. (2011). Preliminary Assessment of Cumulative Drawdown impacts in the Surat Basin Associated with the Coal Seam Gas industry,
  39. (1955). Progress report on Eastern Darling Downs groundwater investigation to 30 th
  40. (2012). Queensland | Condamine River Alluvial Aquifer – critical review GHD,
  41. (1975). Queensland geology - A companion volume to the 1:2,500,000 scale geological map. GSQ publication 383, Geological Survey of Queensland. doi
  42. (1996). Recalibration of a Groundwater Flow Model for the Condamine Groundwater Management Areas. Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Resource Science Centre, Resource Condition and Trend Unit, Water Assessment and Planning.
  43. (1960). Report on groundwater investigations -Condamine river valley to 30 th
  44. (1958). Report on groundwater investigations Darlymple Creek - Condamine river basin to 30 th
  45. (1959). Report on groundwater investigations King Creek - Condamine river basin to 30 th
  46. (1950). Report on the underground water recourses investigations in the Condamine river valley. Unpublished report, Irrigation and Water Supply Commission,
  47. (2010). Resistivity imaging across native vegetation and irrigated Vertosols of the Condamine catchment—a snapshot of changing regolith water storage. 19 th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World,
  48. (2011). River Alluvial Aquifer – critical review - 36 -Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB), 2011a. Central Condamine Alluvium, Stage III - Detailed water balance. Final Report. Prepared for the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.
  49. (2008). Salinity in Queensland -hydrologic change from soils to catchments. 2 nd International Salinity Forum; Salinity, water and society - global issues, local action.
  50. (2007). Semiarid unsaturated zone chloride profiles: archives of past land use change impacts on water resources in the southern High Plains, United States. doi
  51. (2009). Soil chloride and deep drainage responses to land clearing for cropping at seven sites in central Queensland, northern Australia. doi
  52. (2010). Soil water storage and drainage under cotton-based cropping systems in a furrow-irrigated Vertisol. doi
  53. (2012). Spatial Analysis of Coal Seam Gas Water Chemistry - Final report. Prepared for Activity 1.2 of the Healthy HeadWaters Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study, Department of Environment and Resource Management,
  54. (2009). Subsidence history and basin phases of the Bowen Gunnedah and Surat Basins, doi
  55. (2008). Surface– groundwater connectivity assessment. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project.
  56. (2009). The Brigalow Catchment Study revisited: effects of land development on deep drainage determined from nonsteady chloride profiles. doi
  57. (1979). The nature and possible origins of soluble salts in deeply weathered landscapes of Eastern Australia. doi
  58. (1997). The Surat and
  59. (2010). Tools for water planning: lessons, gaps and adoption. Waterlines report no. 37, National Water Commission,
  60. (2012). Understanding groundwater processes by representing aquifer heterogeneity in the Maules Creek Catchment, Namoi Valley (New South Wales, doi
  61. (1973). Upper Condamine resistivity measurements. Queensland Water Resources Commission.
  62. (2008). Water availability in the Condamine-Balonne. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project.
  63. (2012). Water percolation through a clayey vadose zone. doi
  64. (2012). Water planning in the Condamine Alluvium, Queensland: Sharing information and eliciting views in a context of overallocation. doi
  65. (2004). Water quality in Queensland catchments and the cotton industry.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.