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The challenge

Water security is essential for the livelihood of island communities

Groundwater can often be the main water resource in isolated and remote islands though its long-term viability is subject to multiple stressors including population growth, regional development, climate change and mismanagement.

In addition, existing water infrastructure and data in island communities can often be limited while also being faced with logistical challenges to implement long-term solutions.

Our response

Multi-disciplinary science empowered by stakeholders engagement

We undertake a detailed evaluation of existing data and knowledge to co-design multi-disciplinary and targeted field, desktop and modelling investigations in a range of hydrogeological settings at various scales with the aim to address key knowledge gaps.

Secure freshwater supplies are essential for island communties surrounded by seawater. ©  Andrew R Taylor

These include:

  1. co-designing and implementing hydrological measurement and monitoring programs to map groundwater and surface water flows
  2. co-designing and conducting groundwater sampling for chemistry and environmental tracers to characterise and quantify groundwater flow processes
  3. acquisition of high-resolution remotely sensed data to map land surface elevation
  4. applications of airborne and near-surface geophysics to map the spatial extent and thickness of aquifers/freshwater lenses as well as the spatial occurrence of the freshwater-saltwater interface
  5. mapping of opportunities for managed aquifer recharge and/or conjunctive use of different water sources
  6. development of three-dimensional geological models to provide the framework for a range of specific desktop analyses and modelling
  7. analytical and numerical modelling including uncertainty analysis to evaluate cumulative hydrological impacts associated with future groundwater development and estimate the potential scale of the available groundwater resource in the long-term.

We are engaging with stakeholders of island communities and working in conjunction with them to improve the understanding of water resources on islands by providing scientific knowledge to underpin the future planning, investment and management of their water resources.

The results

Publicly acceptable resource management

Our research has resulted in a detailed understanding of island water resources leading to improved management and investment in water resources and infrastructure to increase both the resilience of existing water supplies but also potential for providing redundancy in supply.

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