Evaluating a national framework for groundwater use estimation in Australia

Groundwater extractions from Australia’s aquifers support domestic water supplies, pastoral and arable agriculture, among many other economic and social water uses. Knowledge about extraction rates over large scales is important to support groundwater sustainability assessments and strategic land and water management decisions. Knowledge about likely extraction rates at smaller (e.g. town or property) scales is also important to interpreted variations in surface and groundwater levels. 

Despite its importance, knowledge about groundwater extraction rates is generally low. Especially in the more remote, arable farming areas (most of the Great Artesian Basin), extractions are not metered (i.e. measured), and there are no accepted guidelines or models for estimation. 

Recent work (Keir et al, in press) has shown that statistical models can be used to estimate spatial and temporal variability of extractions at multiple scales including for all wells and properties where no metering exists. Their model was applied to Queensland’s Surat Basin and was limited by the low number of metered wells available for fitting and validating the model; nevertheless the work demonstrated the potential for developing a regionally or nationally applicable quantitative approach that uses multiple types of relevant data to improve estimates.  

Following on from the work of Keir et al., Louisa's research will use metered groundwater use data for selected case study areas and apply simple and more advanced analytical and statistical models of extraction rates (including Keir et al.) to provide estimates of groundwater use. The accuracy and utility of the models will be assessed using traditional model validation techniques.


Louisa has fifteen years of experience working for government and as a consultant leading water resources investigations for the mining, coal seam gas, agriculture, transport, property and government sectors. She has specific expertise in water resources management and impact assessment. Her experience includes developing water resources legislation and policy and leading complex groundwater and surface water investigations for project approvals, operations and compliance. 

Louisa completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney and was awarded first class Honours and the University Medal. She has subsequently completed a Master of Science by Research at the University of Sydney, a Graduate Diploma of Education at Queensland University of Technology and a Graduate Certificate of Groundwater Hydrology at Flinders University. Louisa started her PhD with The University of Queensland in 2018.


Professor Neil McIntyre & David Lockington (Civil Engineering)