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Groundwater dependent ecosystems and their significance to Australia

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					      Case study 14


      Groundwater dependent ecosystems
      and their significance to Australia



                                    suMMaRy

date of evaluation: June 2004


duration and projects:

Land & Water Australia (LWA) funded an initial project titled ‘Dependence of ecosystems
on groundwater and its significance to Australia’ (SKP2) in 1996–97 under its Groundwater
Management Program, then funded six more scientific based projects under the groundwater
ecosystem theme of the program (JCU14, NSW23, NTU1, WRC1, CLW7 and CLW8) between
that time and 2002–03.



Nature of innovation:

The major project (SKP2) provided a review of groundwater dependent ecosystems and their
cultural, biological and economic significance; stressed the poor level of understanding
of these issues in the community; and highlighted the methodological gaps in assessing
dependence. The scientific projects produced further knowledge about the groundwater
dependent ecosystems and some produced management guidelines for particular situations.




                                                                                            349
      Who was involved:

      Most funding came from LWA but a range of other organisations also contributed. Sinclair
      Knight Merz carried out the major project while other contributing researchers were from
      James Cook University, the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural
      Resources, Northern Territory University, Western Australian Waters and Rivers Commission,
      and CSIRO Land and Water.



      adoption and impact:

      There has been a general awareness raising from the projects that has spawned other
      projects and generally been influential in having dependent ecosystems better serviced from
      groundwater sources through lowered allocations for extraction. This has arisen through for
      example, less groundwater development in the vicinity of threatened ecosystems. Currently
      there are many other projects investigating groundwater dependent ecosystems so that the
      LWA investment can be regarded as somewhat catalytic.

      Notwithstanding the trade-offs involved in providing more groundwater for the environment,
      some modest progress has already been made. The LWA investment can claim a small
      proportion of these advances, where benefits lie mainly in the form of environmental
      protection and greater sustainability, valued by the community at large.



      evaluation:

      A benefit–cost analysis for the total investment in this innovation was carried out with key
      benefits valued via assumptions on:

      •    the value of groundwater dependent ecosystems

      •    the degree of protection to groundwater dependent ecosystems from policy changes
           since 1998–99.




350
Investment criteria

The results of the investment analysis were:

 Criterion                                             discount rate 6%

                                    Benefits to date only   all benefits and    LWa benefits
                                    and all research and     all R&d costs     and LWa costs
                                  development (R&d) costs

 Present value of benefits ($m)            –3.2                  15.3               6.0

 Present value of costs ($m)                4.7                   4.7               1.8

 Net present value ($m)                    –7.9                  10.6               4.2

 Benefit:cost ratio                      –0.67 to 1             3.3 to 1          3.3 to 1

 Internal rate of return (%)             Negative                 15                15




Current contact:

Richard Evans, Sinclair Knight Merz, telephone 03 9248 3369




                                  FuLL Case study

Introduction

The need to allocate water to the environment was a key principle of the 1996 Council of
Australian Governments (COAG) water reform process. This responsibility for environmental
allocation also applied to groundwater. A knowledge gap appeared in relation to appropriate
environmental allocation of groundwater and, in particular, the relationship between
ecosystems and groundwater. There was an identified need for a national perspective on the
distribution, significance and nature of dependent ecosystems. This was an area that had
been poorly understood with virtually no literature specific to the topic at that time.

The types of groundwater dependent ecosystems were not well understood nor their diversity
or location categorised in much detail. In addition, knowledge of the impacts of groundwater
extraction for irrigation or mining, or other groundwater developments or land use changes
was limited. It was believed that disturbances to groundwater processes could have highly
significant impacts on the health of many of the ecosystems that depended either partly or
totally on groundwater.

In response to this the National Groundwater Research and Development Program managed
by Land & Water Australia (LWA) funded a series of projects on this topic through its
‘groundwater ecosystems’ theme.




                                                                                               351
      Project description

      LWA funded an initial project titled ‘Dependence of ecosystems on groundwater and its
      significance to Australia’ (SKP2). The aim of the project was to identify ecosystems for all
      of Australia that are dependent on groundwater. The research approach was to develop a
      set of principles on likely dependence using the existing data and literature on Australian
      hydrogeological systems and ecosystems. This was complemented by interviews with
      experts on their experience and knowledge about potentially dependent ecosystems. The
      methods available to experimentally determine the actual degree and nature of groundwater
      dependency for various classes of ecosystems were also reviewed and synthesised.

      Groundwater was defined as that water which has been below ground and would be
      unavailable to plants and animals were it to be extracted by pumping. There are four major
      types of ecosystems that the report considered:

      1.   Terrestrial vegetation may depend on the diffuse discharge (root uptake) of shallow
           groundwater, either to sustain transpiration and growth through a dry season or for the
           maintenance of perennially lush ecosystems in otherwise arid environments. This also
           included tree plantations which may extract groundwater.

      2.   River baseflow systems—baseflow is made up of several components, such as
           groundwater discharge, bank storage and lateral unsaturated flow. It is not possible to
           identify groundwater discharge from stream flow data alone and the size and importance
           of groundwater discharge to a river system is difficult to measure.

      3.   Aquifer and cave ecosystems—hypogean life exists in a continuum through different types
           of karstic, cave, porous and fissured aquifers. These ecosystems are poorly understood.

      4.   Wetlands are defined as land permanently or temporarily under water or waterlogged, with
           temporary wetlands having surface water or waterlogging of sufficient frequency and/or
           duration to affect the biota (includes lakes, floodplains, moundsprings and billabongs).

      This project led to the publication of the report ‘Dependence of ecosystems on groundwater
      and its significance to Australia’ (Hatton and Evans 1998). This project also identified research
      gaps and had some input to the later funding priorities of the Groundwater Management
      R&D Program.

      In addition to this generic project on identification and classification, the groundwater
      ecosystems theme of the Groundwater R&D Program included six more scientific based
      projects including:

      •    JCU14 – Riparian and instream vegetation requirements of baseflows from basalt
           aquifers (James Cook University)

      •    NDW23 – Optimising groundwater usage to mitigate native vegetation decline in the
           Namoi Valley (NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, now the Department of
           Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources




352
•       NTU1 – Estimation of sustainable groundwater pumping rates (Northern Territory
        University);

•       WRC1 – Phreatophytic vegetation water requirements and effectiveness of
        environmental water provisions (Western Australian Waters and Rivers Commission)

•       CLW7 – Biogeochemical processes induced by groundwater surface water interactions
        (CSIRO Land and Water)

•       CLW8 – Guidelines for managing groundwater vegetation health in saline areas (CSIRO
        Land and Water).



Investment costs

Resources contributed by LWA and partners to the seven projects identified above are shown
in Table 1.


table 1. Resources invested (nominal $) by year and by partner/researcher

    year                        LWa                        Othera                       total

    1996–97                   201,293                     352,007                      553,300

    1997–98                   125,677                     205,507                      331,184

    1998–99                   302,083                     435,447                      737,530

    1999–00                   320,427                     444,307                      764,734

    2000–01                   181,903                     329,461                      511,364

    2001–02                    93,766                      81,779                      175,545

    2002–03                    17,611                         0                        17,611

    Total                    1,242,760                    1,848,508                   3,091,268

a     Contributions include those from: CSIRO Land and Water, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide;
      Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology; Department of Infrastructure Planning and
      Natural Resources, NSW; Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria; Wimmera
      Mallee Water; Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy, Queensland; James Cook
      University; Charles Darwin University; Edith Cowan University; Western Australia Water Corporation;
      Western Australian Waters and Rivers Commission; University of Technology, Sydney.




                                                                                                            353
      Outputs


      sKP2

      The findings of the first project (SKP2) can be summarised as follows:

      •    the majority of Australia is vegetated by systems with little or no direct dependence on
           groundwater

      •    the cultural, biological and economic significance of dependent ecosystems is high, and
           they are widely distributed

      •    the general level of understanding about the issue is poor, including within the scientific
           community

      •    this level of understanding is reflected in the lack of consideration of groundwater in a
           number of recent assessments of ecosystems that probably involve groundwater

      •    the translation of the COAG concept of water provision to the environment, in a
           groundwater sense, is poorly defined

      •    such translation, however, is quite likely to introduce a major constraint to groundwater
           resource development, with potentially large economic impacts—the definition of
           acceptable impacts then becomes critical, and is generally lacking

      •    methodological gaps in assessing dependence are serious, particularly in the case of
           baseflow dependent ecosystems.

      WRC1

      Project WRC1 focused on a shallow unconfined aquifer on the Swan Coastal Plan currently
      used for Perth’s metropolitan water supply and where dependent vegetation was of concern
      to management of the groundwater resource. The key outputs from WRC1 included:

      •    documentation of characteristics of phreatophytic (groundwater using) plant
           communities, indicators of community health, within-community variability in
           groundwater dependency, and response of phreatophytic vegetation to change in
           groundwater regimes, for general application on shallow unconfined aquifers

      •    an adaptive management strategy for determining phreatophytic vegetation water require-
           ments and setting of water provisions as part of groundwater resource allocation processes

      •    a monitoring program established to assess the efficacy of environmental water
           provisions

      •    the monitoring program recommendations being adopted by the Western Australian
           Water Resources Commission (WAWRC) and alterations made to existing and new
           vegetation monitoring programs

      •    a strategy highlighting the pathways for identification of appropriate water requirements,
           setting of water provisions and selection of monitoring criteria.




354
Ntu1

NTU1 was undertaken in the Howard East Basin in the Northern Territory to quantify
ecologically sustainable groundwater pumping rates and use of groundwater by savanna
vegetation, paperbark swamps and monsoon vine forests. The following were among the key
outputs of NTU1:

•   Rates of recharge for the Howard River catchment are estimated to be 200 mm per
    year. Discharge of groundwater is 180 mm groundwater flow to the Howard River and 20
    mm is due to other losses. There is no discharge of groundwater by eucalypt savanna
    transpiration.

•   Neither the eucalypt savanna nor the paperbark swamp ecosystems are dependent on
    groundwater, with the important proviso that this appears to be true over the project
    period when annual rainfall has been very high. It was determined that it is possible that
    groundwater acts as an important reserve during long periods of lower than average
    rainfall. In addition, excessive dry season groundwater removal will deplete river flow,
    which will have serious negative impacts on riparian vegetation, fauna and other
    repercussions (tourism etc).

•   The multi-disciplinary approach used in the project is a robust means of addressing
    the questions asked (e.g. use of micrometeorologists, plant physiologists, chemists and
    hydrologists).

•   The protocol requires appropriate infrastructure to measure all components of the water
    balance.

NdW23

This project investigated the causes of tree health decline in northern NSW through
groundwater management modelling. The following were among the findings and outputs of
NDW23:

•   The project was inconclusive in demonstrating the correlation between tree health
    decline and watertable decline.

•   Native vegetation decline is a multi-factorial phenomenon. Under the given
    environmental conditions, it is not likely that declining groundwater tables alone cause
    poor tree health. The contributing factors identified include watertable declines, surface
    and groundwater quality, land clearing, loss of biodiversity, high use of agro-chemicals
    and changes in flooding frequency.

•   A methodology was developed for the application of a management model to a
    groundwater system in which terrestrial groundwater-dependent ecosystems are to
    be protected. In addition, the methodology aims to protect baseflow to rivers, so that
    aquatic ecosystems are not impaired. Alternatively, in the case of saline groundwater




                                                                                                 355
           discharge to rivers, hydraulic gradients can be maintained away from a river. The
           methodology is generic, and can be applied readily to any aquifer that has an established
           MODFLOW groundwater flow model.

      •    The concept of water level response management is being trialled within the Namoi Valley,
           NSW. At present there is no commitment to applying this principle regionally, but there is
           provision for it in the water sharing plan for the Namoi Valley groundwater sources.

      JCu14

      This project was carried out by the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research and
      involved an analysis of in-stream and riparian vegetation dynamics and its relationship with
      stream hydrology in turn influenced by abstraction from the aquifers known as the ‘Atherton
      Basalts’. Outputs of JCU14 included the following:

      •    The project highlighted the poor understanding of aquatic biodiversity in a megadiverse
           area such as the wet tropics.

      •    Many aquatic species were difficult to identify and two macrophyte species that were
           identified were listed as rare and threatened.

      •    There were clear differences in the sources of water utilised by some riparian species.

      •    The dry season stream water and groundwater isotopic signatures were significantly
           different.

      •    In wet seasons, all species used water from the upper soil profile, water derived from
           recent precipitation events; however, in dry seasons some plants used distinctively
           different water sources (e.g. groundwater, shallow soil water, stream water).

      •    A paper was produced on methods to assess groundwater dependence in riparian
           vegetation.

      CLW7

      CLW7 was undertaken by CSIRO Land and Water and investigated how the health of riparian
      and aquatic ecosystems may be affected by groundwater abstraction and other interventions
      such as land clearing. The project produced knowledge through chemical modelling of the
      behaviour of nutrients (particularly nitrogen) at the interface of groundwater and surface water.

      CLW8

      The project set out to produce guidelines for managing native terrestrial vegetation
      communities through groundwater management. The project focused on areas of vegetation
      of high conservation values and investigated through field based studies the plant responses
      to salinity and waterlogging and included groundwater use by vegetation.




356
Principal outcomes


specific project outcomes

The findings from the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research on environmental
flow requirements (JCU14) have been taken into account by the Barron River Water Resource
Plan through the Centre’s advice via the Technical Advisory Panel. Along with other work,
there was some evidence that there were possibly some dependent ecosystems present and
now the groundwater plan for the basalt aquifers has capped the yield at 15,000 ML, whereas
it was thought previously that extraction could be permitted up to 21,000 ML (Lukacs, pers.
comm. 2004).

In the Namoi Valley (NDW23), the groundwater resource is overcommitted (its use is greater
than its identified sustainable yield) so that it would be difficult to make changes quickly due
to economic and social dependencies. The difficulties were exacerbated since the evidence
about native vegetation in the area being highly dependent on groundwater was not clear
(Sinclair, pers, comm. 2004).

Many studies had already been carried out on the Swan Coastal Plan near Perth before
WRC1. However, some contributions were made by WRC1 to the overall groundwater
management plans for the region.

The findings from NTU1 have been used to partition groundwater to the environment, and in
assessing the sustainability of groundwater use for various subdivisions in the Howard East
Basin where hundreds of hectares have been subdivided recently into 2 ha blocks each with its
own bore. The Northern Territory Government has also used data from the project to calibrate
groundwater models to identify protection zones in the Daly Basin (Jolly, pers. comm. 2004).

Project CLW7 produced a good deal of scientific information that had some indirect impact
on the NSW policy framework on management of groundwater dependent ecosystems. The
findings were also useful in influencing the future research agenda, particularly for stream
ecosystems (Herczeg, pers. comm. 2004).

Project CLW8 produced a set of guidelines that have contributed to the overall management
of groundwater in situations where native vegetation may be threatened by waterlogging
and salinity.

The report from project SKP2 funded by LWA, and a subsequent seminar tour, were highly
successful in raising the importance of groundwater dependent ecosystems (PPK 2000).

In a more general sense, these specific projects led to a heightened awareness of both
agencies and communities of the location and the role and importance of groundwater in
supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. For example, the vegetation water requirements
and indicators of response formed the basis of the information used by the WAWRC for the
water resource allocation process during the course of one of these LWA supported projects.




                                                                                                   357
      More general outcomes

      There has been a general awareness raising from the projects that has spawned other
      projects and generally been influential in having dependent ecosystems better serviced from
      groundwater sources through lowered allocations for extraction. This has arisen through, for
      example, less groundwater development in the vicinity of threatened ecosystems. A consistent
      approach to assessing and determining the requirements for groundwater dependent
      ecosystems is obviously critical and is the subject of ongoing R&D investment by LWA.

      This is not to say that the LWA investments have been instrumental in a high proportion of
      groundwater savings for the environment to date, but they have contributed to some extent.
      Examples of where some other groundwater management changes have been made or are
      being contemplated include the following:

      •    Most State governments have enacted legislation giving greater recognition to
           groundwater dependent ecosystems with a number of studies at least mapping
           groundwater dependent ecosystems.

      •    The Queensland Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy has commissioned
           a study to examine the impact of proposed groundwater extraction in the Pioneer Valley.
           This is part of a process that will examine groundwater dependent ecosystems in all
           catchments that have groundwater management plans (Cook, pers. comm. 2004).

      •    The NSW Government has recently adopted a default policy that no more bores in the
           Great Artesian Basin will be allowed within 5 km of a spring (Sinclair, pers. comm. 2004);
           this will eventually become part of the NSW water sharing plan for the region.

      •    The NSW Government is developing water sharing plans across the State and in so
           doing the sharing of water from a water source must protect the water source and its
           dependent ecosystems.

      •    The latest proposal to develop a new major water source for Western Australia’s
           Yarragadee Aquifer has stalled because of uncertainties associated with groundwater
           dependent ecosystems. The cost of new water (45 GL) would have been about $0.80/kL.
           However, a desalination alternative will produce water for $1.11/kL. The difference could
           be considered the cost of the environmental allocation (Hatton, pers. comm. 2004).

      •    There has been greater interest shown in groundwater management plans for the south
           east of South Australia (Cook, pers. comm. 2004).

      •    There has been greater interest in potential constraints on water development in the
           Pilbara due to stygofaunal concerns.




358
Benefits associated with the investment

Groundwater dependent ecosystems are threatened by contamination and over-extraction,
particularly urban development, contamination from industry, intensive irrigation, salinisation,
clearing of vegetation and filling or draining of wetlands.

The NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation fact sheet on groundwater dependent
ecosystems identifies the following values of such systems:

•    Some of the ecosystems are rare, unique or threatened; for example, the plants and
     animals in the Great Artesian Basin’s springs. Many of the species in groundwater
     dependent ecosystems do not live in surface water habitats. In addition, they add to
     the ecological diversity of a region, as Australia is biogeographically distinct in its
     groundwater fauna.

•    Ecosystems surviving in caves and aquifers may be amongst the oldest of such on earth.

•    Microfauna in groundwater help to ‘clean up’ contaminants and hence there is a water
     quality value.

•    Groundwater ecosystems can be bio-indicators (i.e. indicators of biological health of an
     overall system).

•    The systems may play an important role in maintaining river health, although this is not
     yet fully understood.

•    They are often connected to other non-groundwater dependent ecosystems and thus
     integrated into the broader regional environment;

•    Sites may have cultural significance especially for indigenous Australians.

•    Sites may have social and economic values (e.g. recreation and tourism).

In addition, scientific research into past environments via caves and peat bogs relies upon the
fossil record, and fluctuating water levels and changes in water quality can destroy this record.

The specific benefits from the LWA investments in groundwater dependent ecosystems can
be grouped as economic, environmental and social.

economic benefits

•    Consideration of extracting less, or not extracting more, groundwater from existing
     resources.

•    More efficient processes for allocating groundwater to different uses such as the
     environment including where groundwater may have been unnecessarily allocated to
     the environment and therefore the benefit is an avoided loss of water for productive
     purposes.




                                                                                                    359
      environmental benefits

      •    An increase in allocations to some groundwater dependent ecosystems so preserving
           biodiversity.

      social benefits

      •    Provision of scientific information allowing more efficient negotiation and discussion
           within communities about groundwater allocations, so building social capacity.



      Quantification of benefits


      the value of groundwater dependent ecosystems

      The benefits from maintaining groundwater dependent ecosystems can be based on
      willingness-to-pay (WTP) studies for maintaining natural vegetation and biodiversity. For
      example, Evans (2000) reports seven WTP results where the value of conservation of 10,000 ha
      of natural area ranges from $0.08 per household to over $6 per household with an average of
      $1.32 per 10,000 ha. The median result was $0.42 per 10,000 ha.

      The number of hectares of groundwater dependent ecosystems is estimated by Evans (2000)
      at 1,582,000 (derived from Hatton and Evans (1998) and Landsberg et al. (1997). Applying
      the median WTP value to this area gives a value of $66.44 per household. Across 7 million
      Australian households this benefit is estimated at $465 million per annum.

      The cost of providing more water for groundwater dependent ecosystems is usually the
      opportunity foregone of using that water for some other purpose (e.g. irrigation) or the cost of
      providing water in some other way (e.g. desalinisation). Evans (2000) has made an estimate of
      groundwater use in Australia and the proportions used for different purposes (e.g. irrigation,
      domestic and stock, and for urban and industrial uses) and has estimated its total use value
      at $1.12 billion per annum.

      The quantity of groundwater that may need to be left in the ground in order to maintain these
      ecosystems will vary from zero for some to a high level in others. If it is assumed that, on
      average, 10 per cent of this water will need to be given up to protect groundwater dependent
      ecosystems, this would represent an opportunity cost of $112 million per annum. Assuming
      this level of opportunity cost, the net benefit therefore is $465m minus $112m or $353
      million per annum.

      degree of protection to date

      It has been assumed that only a very small proportion of potential protective management
      strategies has been implemented to date (5 per cent), but that this may increase within the
      next 10 years. This assumes there will need to be further investment in identifying values and
      opportunities in select locations over the next period of years, as well as in community decision-
      making to allow the potential societal benefits to be captured. This may be a slow process.




360
Overall attribution to LWa investments

Of the 5 per cent of implementation (allocation to the environment) assumed to date, it
is assumed that 10 per cent of this can be attributed to the LWA investment in the seven
projects identified.

A summary of all assumptions made is given in Table 2.


table 2. Assumptions for the valuation of benefits from investment in groundwater
dependent ecosystems (GDEs)

 Variable                                 Value                     source

 Value of groundwater dependent ecosystems

 Total area                               1,582,000 ha              Evans (2000)

 Value of GDEs                            $66.44 per household      Based on Evans (2000); median
                                                                    value of $0.42 per household
                                                                    willingness to pay for 10,000 ha
                                                                    protected

 Number of households in Australia        7 million                 Australian Bureau of Statistics
                                                                    data for 2002

 Total value of GDEs                      $465 million per annum    By multiplication

 Average reduction in groundwater         10% per annum             Adapted from Evans (2000)
 extraction to ensure value is
 retained

 Value of groundwater currently           $1.12 billion per annum   Evans (2000)
 extracted

 Cost of management changes to            $112 million per annum    10% of $1.12 billion
 ensure value is retained

 Degree of protection from policy changes since 1998–99

 Extent of GDEs protected through         5%                        Agtrans assumption
 management changes to date

 Average lag period from policy           5 years                   Agtrans assumption
 change to ecosystem benefit

 Year of first benefit                    2004–05                   Agtrans assumption

 Year of first opportunity cost           1999–00                   Agtrans assumption

 Overall attribution to LWA investments

 Attribution of changes to LWA            10%                       Agtrans assumption
 investment




                                                                                                       361
      Results

      The investment criteria are presented in Table 3. ‘Benefits to date’ captures the benefit that
      have accrued up to 2003–04.


      table 3. Investment criteria

       Criterion                                                discount rate 6%

                                          Benefits to date     all benefits and all   LWa benefits and
                                          only and all R&d          R&d costs           LWa costs
                                                costs

       Present value of benefits ($m)           –3.2                  15.3                  6.0

       Present value of costs ($m)               4.7                   4.7                  1.8

       Net present value ($m)                   –7.9                  10.6                  4.2

       Benefit:cost ratio                       –0.67                3.3 to 1             3.3 to 1

       Internal rate of return (%)            Negative                 15




      sensitivity analysis

      The sensitivity of the investment criteria (for LWA benefits and costs only) to the attribution to
      the LWA investment is shown in Table 4.


      table 4. Sensitivity of investment criteria to attribution to LWA investment (LWA benefits
      and costs)

       Criterion                                                 discount rate 6%

                                             Low value 5%        Base value10%         High value 20%

       Present value of benefits ($m)             3.0                   6.0                 12.1

       Present value of costs ($m)                1.8                   1.8                  1.8

       Net present value ($m)                     1.2                   4.2                 10.2

       Benefit:cost ratio                       1.6 to 1              3.3 to 1             7 to 1

       Internal rate of return (%)                 10                   15                   20



      The break-even attribution to LWA (for the investment to still yield 6 per cent) would be 3
      per cent.




362
discussion of quantitative results

There are a number of uncertainties associated with the assumptions made in the analysis. It
is difficult to ascertain what protection has been afforded groundwater dependent ecosystems
since the LWA investments were completed, as well as the amount of groundwater that
would have had to have been given from alternative uses in order to secure this protection.
Finally, the extent to which the LWA investments have contributed to the assumed changes is
uncertain. These assumptions made are probably conservative; for example, if any one of the
three parameters is unfavourably halved or doubled, the investment is still viable. However,
if any two of these assumed parameters are unfavourably halved or doubled (the amount of
water given up), the investment becomes non-viable at a 6 per cent discount rate.



Conclusion

These initial investments by LWA in groundwater dependent ecosystems represented the
first concerted effort to fund a coordinated R&D program in this area. The projects involved
a number of research providers and, in general, could be credited with raising awareness of
these valued systems and associated knowledge gaps in a research sense. Currently, there
are many other projects addressing groundwater dependent ecosystems so that the LWA
investment can be regarded as somewhat catalytic.

Notwithstanding the trade-offs involved in providing more groundwater for the environment,
some modest progress has already been made. The LWA investment can claim a small
proportion of these advances, where benefits lie mainly in the form of environmental
protection and greater sustainability, valued by the community at large. Given the
assumptions made, the investment criteria estimated for the LWA expenditure are all positive.



acknowledgments

•    Peter Cook, CSIRO Land and Water

•    Richard Evans, Sinclair Knight Merz

•    Tom Hatton, CSIRO Land and Water

•    Andrew Herczeg, CSIRO Land and Water

•    Peter Jolly, Department of Infrastructure and Planning, Northern Territory

•    Peter Sinclair, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, NSW

•    George Lukacs, Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research, Townsville




                                                                                                363
      References

      Evans, R. (2000). Environmental water requirements of groundwater dependent ecosystems.
          Project Number WC01191, Environment Australia.

      Hatton, T. and Evans, R. (1998). Dependence of ecosystems on groundwater and its significance to
          Australia. Occasional Paper No. 12/98, LWRRDC, Canberra.

      Landsberg, J., James, C.D., Morton, S.R., Hobbs, T.J., Stol, J., Drew, A. and Tongway, H. (1997). The
          effects of artificial sources of water on rangeland biodiversity. Final report to the Biodiversity
          Convention and Strategy Section of the Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia, CSIRO
          Division of Wildlife and Ecology, Canberra. At: <http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/
          publications/technical/artificial-water/app1.html>.

      PPK Consultants (2000). National Groundwater R&D Program: mid term review and new strategic
          plan. Report to LWRRDC, Canberra.




364

				
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Description: Groundwater dependent ecosystems and their significance to Australia