Groundwater update from Department of Environment and Natural Resources

You might have heard that groundwater levels in Darwin’s rural area are lower than average for this time of year and some groundwater systems are extremely low. We know this from government monitoring bores.

Across the region, government monitoring bores all tell a similar story of aquifers sitting well below their average. The poor wet season means that aquifers and water levels have not been topped up and individual bores in the Darwin rural area may be facing some water shortages come the middle of the dry season.

Darwin’s rural area has been through poor wet seasons before, but this one was different.  The last time we had this sort of wet season was back 1991/92, when there were around 1500 bores, now there are around 5000 bores. Back then there wasn’t this level of development, there’s a lot more users in the systems now and we’re seeing much greater levels of decline in groundwater. The Territory Government’s prediction is that groundwater levels will fall to record low levels this year.

This is also off the back of a series of poor wet seasons during which aquifers did not recharge.

What does this mean for growers?

Growers in the Berry Springs, Middle Point and Lambells Lagoon areas are at the greatest risk of bores running dry. Water levels are at critical levels and there is a real urgency to reduce water use.  Farmers are strongly encouraged to find efficiencies where they can so they can still bring their crops through to market.

It is recommended that you can:

  • check your irrigation system - fix any water leaks;
  • check your irrigation scheduling and if possible water at cooler times of the day, like at dusk or dawn;
  • monitor your water quality (as water levels decline, quality may change or become un‑useable)
  • service and monitor your bore for signs of failure
  • keep informed using the information at

Government agencies are working together and with NT Farmers regarding improved advice to growers in these regions.

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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