Recharge to Blue Lake and Strategies for Water Security Planning, Mount Gambier, South Australia


Blue Lake, a volcanic crater provides municipal water supply to the city of Mount Gambier, population of 26,000. Current average annual pumping from the lake is 3.6 × 106 m3. The lake is fed by karstic unconfined Gambier Limestone aquifer. Storm water of the city discharges to the aquifer via about 400 drainage wells and three large sinkholes. Average annual storm water discharge is estimated at approximately 6.6 × 106 m3 through drainage wells and sinkholes within 16.8 km2 of the central part of the city. Chemical mass balance for calcium was used to estimate groundwater inflow to the lake at 6.3 × 106 m3, almost equal to the volume of storm water discharge and slightly higher than the previous estimates using environmental isotopes (4.8 - 6.0 × 106 m3). Considering the lake outflow volume of 2.7 × 106 m3, the net inflow to the lake equates to the current annual pumping and therefore it is considered that the current pumping rate is at the upper limit. For meeting the short-term future demand, confined aquifer water may be used and in the longerterm, an additional well field is required outside the Blue Lake capture zone, preferably to the north-east of the city. For water supply security, inflow to the lake along with water quality has to be maintained within the city. Current annual private abstraction within the capture zone is about 4.4 × 106 m3 and in order to maintain aquifer water levels, no additional allocation should be allowed.

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Somaratne, N. , Lawson, J. , Ashman, G. and Nguyen, K. (2014) Recharge to Blue Lake and Strategies for Water Security Planning, Mount Gambier, South Australia. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 772-783. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.68073.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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