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The Namoi valley contains some of the best agricultural soils in Australia. Concern about the reliability of the underlying groundwater resources has become a contested politic al area as the pressure to develop coal-seam gas, open-cast coal and agriculture all play out in the political domain at a local, State and Federal level. The NCRIS project has sort to develop a much improved understanding of the links between surface water and groundwater in the Maules Creek area, drained by one of the tributary streams of the Namoi. 

A profile of double piezometers has been installed on the banks of the Namoi, close to the Maules Creek confluence, to better understand the transfer of water, both to and from the Namoi, in response to natural floods, dam releases and groundwater pumping from adjacent abstraction bores. Dr Martin Andersen (CWI, UNSW) is leading up this work and is collaborating with Dr Denis O'Carroll (University of Western Ontario, Canada). Gabriel Rau, Anna Greve and Andrew McCallum have all completed successful PhD theses on this work.

The Upper Maules Creek area is characterised by stretches of both losing and gaining groundwater. Semi-permanent groundwater discharge around Elfin Crossing has been studied by Dr Gabriel Rau (CWI, UNSW) using heat as a tracer. This work commenced using Cotton CRC funding and has been further developed using NCRIS funds to better understand the boundary conditions to this system. Dr Mark Cuthbert (Marie Curie EEC Post Doc from Birmingham University) is working on the stretch above Elfin Crossing where surface water  flowing down Maules Creek  from rainfall around  Mount Kaputar frequently drains into the underlying aquifer under losing conditions. NCRIS funds have been used to better instrument this part of the catchment and to provide semi-permanent monitoring of the system.

The Coburn River catchment has been drilled and instrumented using NCRIS funds in a project led by Prof Peter Cook (Flinders, NCGRT)

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