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The Victorian groundwater basins lie to the north, south and west of the central highlands.

The map below highlights the geological basins.

Victorian geological basins map

Map showing Victorian geological basins

Groundwater is also found in the fractured rock of the highland areas. However, the rate and volume of water that can be extracted is highly variable.

To identify the major aquifers in your area see Groundwater resource reports.

Victorian aquifer framework data

Victorian groundwater resources - major aquifers.

Groundwater use

Groundwater is primarily used in Victoria for irrigation of crops and dairy farms. However, it is also used to supply water for domestic and stock purposes, power generation and for town water supply.

The groundwater extractions by use GMU (2017 - 2018) pie chart shows how groundwater is used for different purposes.

Groundwater extraction by use GMU 2017-2018

Pie chart showing groundwater extraction by use GMUS 2017-2018.Domestic stock 10%, urban 2%, power generation 5%, Irrigation/commercial/salinity control 83%. Source: Victorian Water Accounts 2017 - 2018

In areas where surface water is unavailable or cannot provide security of supply, groundwater plays an important role in sustaining communities and the local economy.

Approximately 70 towns across Victoria rely on groundwater as either a supplementary or primary water supply.

Groundwater is increasingly becoming more valuable as water becomes more scarce.

Groundwater and the environment

Groundwater plays an important role in supporting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Natural ecosystems that rely on groundwater to meet all or some of their water requirements are known as Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDE). Such ecosystems may include wetlands, rivers, vegetation, estuaries and cave systems.

How groundwater supports these environments is depicted in groundwater dependent ecosystems.

Groundwater dependent ecosystems

Diagram showing groundwater dependent ecosystems.  Groundwater recharge area, groundwater discharges to waterways and wetlands aquatic species riparian and wetland vegetation, groundwater use by terrestrial vegetation and fauna. Unconfined acquifer, aquitard, confined acquifer, unconfined aquifer all discharge groundwater to estuaries and the ocean Fauna living within the aquifer stygofauna.

View a larger version of this image.

Protection of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs)

Extraction of groundwater may reduce the water available for GDEs, particularly in unconfined aquifers.

The threat to GDEs from groundwater extraction is managed by assessing the potential impacts of groundwater licence applications.

In considering an application to take and use groundwater, the Water Act 1989 requires that Rural Water Corporations consider any adverse effects that the extraction is likely to have on the environment.

To support consistent decision-making across the state, DEECA provides guidelines for assessing the potential risk to high-value GDEs from groundwater licence applications. The guidelines are available on the Victorian Water Register website.

Page last updated: 20/09/23