Case Study

West Canning Basin borefield investigation and numerical modelling

West Canning Basin borefield investigation header

To meet the future industrial water demands in Port Hedland, Western Australia, The Water Corporation of Western Australia needed to develop a borefield and supply.

The situation

To meet the future industrial water demands in Port Hedland, Western Australia, The Water Corporation of Western Australia needed to develop a borefield and supply up to 10 gigalitres per annum (GL/a).

To support this development, Advisian was commissioned to undertake a hydrogeological study examining potential target areas in the West Canning Basin (WCB).

The approach

A Feasibility Study was undertaken in 2011, followed by a detailed hydrogeological investigation which included:

  • A detailed geophysical desktop study
  • A six month on-site drilling program including:
    • Five mud rotary artesian pumping bores
    •  Five mud rotary artesian monitoring bores
    • One mud rotary unconfined monitoring bore
    • Four air-core exploration holes
    • Downhole geophysics
    • Test pumping program for the five pumping bores
  • Water quality analysis
  • Preparation of a Hydrogeological Conceptualisation of the West Canning Basin
  • Groundwater modelling to optimise the borefield design, extent and magnitude of drawdown
  • Scenario development for three of borefield locations and their associated impacts
  • CAPEX and OPEX estimates for the borefield
  • Recommendations for further development.

The study considered:

  • Long-term borefield production capacity of 10 GL/a with possible expansion to 20 GL/a

  • Minimisation of impacts on existing users

  • Minimisation of impacts on the environment (e.g. groundwater dependent ecosystems (springs))

  • Minimisation of production costs

  • Minimisation of conveyance infrastructure requirements for both CAPEX and OPEX.

The results were used to assess the relative impacts of developing the water supply borefields on other users, the environment, groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and potential seawater intrusion of the proposed borefield locations. 

The study concluded that a non-potable water supply borefield developed in the West Canning Basin has the potential to meet the long-term water demands at Port Hedland. 

Results 

Specific project outcomes include:

  • Identified prospective locations for the placement of a borefield in the West Canning Basin to supply industrial-use water to Port Hedland

  • Developed updated estimates of the potential aquifer yield 

  • Identified key regional trends which influence the placement of a borefield within the West Canning Basin

  • Reinterpreted and redefined the regional geology in the West Canning Basin with respect to drilling and geophysical results

  • A paper titled “West Canning Basin as an Industrial Quality Groundwater Source for Port Hedland, Western Australia” (Cravens, et al., 2013) was subsequently presented at the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) in Perth. A copy of the paper can be downloaded HERE

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