Project Round
Project Number
413 - 003
Research Organisation
Sinclair Knight Merz Pty Ltd

Creating Groundwater Directory for Greater Melbourne

The Challenge

There is a wealth of hydrogeological (groundwater) information available for the Greater Melbourne region. However, its value for water managers, policy-makers, business and the community is limited by how difficult it is to find, access and understand.

To make accessing the data easy, the Victorian Government and Sinclair Knight Merz created the Melbourne Groundwater Map. The Map combines several key groundwater data sources into a single, user-friendly format that is freely available to everyone, from the water industry, to the public.

The Map aims to increase the community’s awareness of groundwater, provide easier access to vital hydrogeological data, and paint a clearer picture of Greater Melbourne’s groundwater resources.

The Project

The project involved the following key tasks:

  • Stakeholder Consultation – helped to clearly identify the information requirements and presentation format to best meet the needs of both technical and community user groups.
  • Data Acquisition – collecting the groundwater data to form the basis for the Map from three main sources: bore data, spatial data, and reference material.
  • Database Development – building the database to hold combined data sources into a single, searchable catalogue.
  • Data Interpretation and Layer Generation – produced an interactive illustration of a series of groundwater layers from the interpreted bore data, existing GIS layers and reference material.
  • Product Development – led to additional resources being produced to meet the specific needs of the water industry – such as resource managers, consultants and researchers – and the broader community. These products included:
    • A Community Groundwater Map – focussing on the information needs of community and small scale groundwater users. The map includes simple explanations of the main aspects of groundwater such as aquifer extent and depths, potentiometry, yield and salinity.
    • A Technical Hydrogeological Atlas – features key technical groundwater layers, including information on aquifer extent and depths, potentiometry, yield, salinity and Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) potential.
  • Product Lodgement – made the Map and additional products available online.

The Outcome:

Lessons Learnt

The Melbourne Groundwater Map contains the vital knowledge for answering key resource management questions for Melbourne, including:

  • Which areas have viable, useable groundwater resources?
  • Which of these areas are covered by a Groundwater Management Unit?
  • Which environmental elements are at risk from groundwater development?
  • Where are suitable sites for water recycling projects (stormwater re-use, MAR)?
  • Where should groundwater development be avoided due to environmental or contamination factors?

The Benefits


  • Increasing the public’s general awareness of groundwater as a resource; leading to a better attitude towards water issues, including availability and water restrictions.
  • The Map helps us plan for the future. Combining the various data sources into one reveals a more complete understanding of Greater Melbourne’s groundwater resources.


  • The Directory has become an important planning tool, assisting resource managers and the community to make better resource allocation and management decisions. Better planning leads to better understanding and environmental outcomes.


  • Centralising the data has allowed for greater efficiency in developing new groundwater projects. The targeted development of groundwater resources reduces the need for preliminary drilling that is often required in the investigation phase.
  • The Map has made it easier to conduct preliminary assessments and comparisons of potential areas for groundwater resource development.
  • By having a complete picture of Greater Melbourne’s groundwater, and taking advantage of these opportunities, relieves the economic pressure on urban water authorities to build new water storage and delivery infrastructure.
  • Making the data easily available online for both the public and private sectors has freed up staff in urban and rural water authorities who were involved in fielding groundwater enquiries.
  • Understanding the ‘big picture’ means the government and water authorities can target large water users to consider using groundwater as an alternative water supply where available.

The Melbourne Groundwater Map was prepared by Sinclair Knight Merz with the support and co-operation of the Smart Water Fund and the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Supporting documents