Interpretive trail highlights importance of groundwater

(L-R) NCGRT Director Craig Simmons with State Water Minister Ian Hunter and Onkaparinga Council Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg
(L-R) NCGRT Director Craig Simmons with State Water Minister Ian Hunter and Onkaparinga Council Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg

A groundwater interpretive trail has been developed by the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) to highlight the importance of groundwater in regional communities.

Officially launched today (Friday, June 27), the Willunga Basin Water Trail includes six signs in locations including the McLaren Vale Visitor Centre, the Old Willunga Courthouse, Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park and the Victory Hotel in Sellicks Beach.

The trail provides information on issues and points of interest for the groundwater system in the Willunga Basin, such as groundwater springs, dependent ecosystems and water use for irrigation, while also highlighting threats to the system, including seawater intrusion and climate change.

The interpretive trail – developed by the NCGRT at Flinders University in collaboration with Onkaparinga Council, Christies Beach High School and local businesses – was officially launched at the McLaren Vale Visitor Centre, with attendees including NCGRT Director Craig Simmons, Onkaparinga Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg and State Water Minister Ian Hunter.

Professor Simmons said despite the significant investment by the NCGRT in research and infrastructure in the Willunga Basin, raising awareness and educating the community about the importance of groundwater remains a challenge.

“To many people, groundwater is all-but invisible, or there as a last resort when surface water runs short,” Professor Simmons said at the packed launch.

“In reality, it drives many of our most productive industries – and if carefully managed can be maintained as a sustainable resource,” he said.

“Through initiatives such as the Willunga Basin Water Trail, we can help share our knowledge to improve local understanding and create a stronger connection to our hidden groundwater systems.

“By helping to bring greater attention to this hidden but vital resource, we are helping to secure a stronger future for the Willunga Basin area.”

Minister Hunter said the trail would be a valuable resource for visitors and locals alike.

“Most of our regional centres rely on groundwater for irrigation and economic development,” Minister Hunter said.

“But even so, it’s sometimes hard to understand the concept or grasp its importance because it’s something you cannot see.

“This is why I have been so pleased to see the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training take a leading role in groundwater research and education.

“This new interpretative signage will help people understand key facts about the groundwater system, and just how important it is to the people and environment of the Willunga Basin.”

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