Water from underground aquifers is a defining characteristic of the region, and allows diverse industry applications. It is a major point of difference for the Limestone Coast.
The region is underlain by two aquifers - the confined lower aquifer which is separated from the upper unconfined aquifer by a layer of clays and marls, allowing only limited interaction between the two. Where faulting has occurred in the geological past there is some interchange of water between the two. The unconfined aquifer provides the majority of water extracted for irrigated agriculture. This aquifer is dependent on recharge from rainfall and has declined in recent times as a result of drought and increased extraction. The confined aquifer contains historic water which flows into the region from its source regions in the North East of Victoria. Access to the confined aquifer is restricted to approved industry and town supply.
Declining water levels and rising groundwater salinity are issues currently being faced by licensed water users in some water management zones. The South East Natural Resource Management Board has flagged reductions in water allocations in some areas where threats have been identified.
All groundwater extraction in the South East is regulated by the conditions of the Water Allocation Plans developed by the South East Natural Resource Management Board and administered by the Department of Water, Land, Biodiversity and Conservation.
When combined with rainfall which is more reliable than in other regions in South Australia and a range of soils suitable for agriculture, there are great opportunities in the region for diversity of production. Irrigation within the region includes pasture for dairying, beef, hay, silage and lamb production; lucerne seed, wine grape, potato, fruit, olive, onion and vegetable production.
Irrigated Land Use Limestone Coast - Map