An aerial survey is scheduled to begin towards the end of March, which will map groundwater and soils beneath plantations and pastoral land near Carnarvon.
The helicopter survey is part of groundwater resource investigation along the Gascoyne River, undertaken as part of the Gascoyne Foodbowl Initiative to assist in planning for agriculture expansion and sustainability in the region.
Part of a $45 million Water and Natural Resource Management program, the aerial survey is an initiative funded by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program administered by the Department of Regional Development and Lands.
This includes funding of $25 million for the Gascoyne Food Bowl and a $20 million contribution to the Carnarvon Stage 2 Flood Mitigation Works.
The groundwater study is being led by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), with project partners including CSIRO and the Department of Water.
DAFWA principal research scientist Richard George said the Airborne Electromagnetic Survey (AEM survey) would run for about a fortnight.
Dr George said it would extend about three to five kilometres north and south of the Gascoyne River from its mouth to Rocky Pool, and would include much of the farmland of the Basin A groundwater area.
“People will see a helicopter flying at 60m height, towing a light-weight hexagon-shaped frame which could be as low as 30 metres above the ground. It will fly at about 60 km/hour over the survey area,” Dr George said.
“The equipment records information on the geology and groundwater salinity from a few metres down, to more than 100 metres deep.”
Dr George said the helicopter would be operated by specialist pilots and would not be flown over houses.
The helicopter has recently been operating successfully in the Ord Valley near Kununurra and Broome.
The survey is flown according to civil aviation rules and will not interfere with scheduled flights to or from Carnarvon.
Dr George said it was an important survey and would benefit agriculture in the Gascoyne region by building a better understanding of existing groundwater systems.
“An AEM survey allows us to look under the ground without disturbing the soil,” he said.
“It provides a detailed platform to then base targeted drilling to access water resources.
“The information we get from the survey will be publicly available, and will be used to help locate new production bores to be used for agriculture, assist with mapping groundwater salinity, and enable with better groundwater management and decisions.”
Letters and information flyers about the survey are being mailed to local organisations and growers.
Anyone with queries should contact Dr George at DAFWA on 9780 6296 or Troy Sinclair, district manager, Department of Water on 9941 6100.
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937