Environmental issues on the Central Coast
Groundwater is basically all the water that exists under the surface. Rain seeps through the soil and accumulated in spaces between sediments or cracks in the bedrock, which are called ‘aquifers’.

Local Sydney and Hawkesbury land stone create porous aquifers providing a potential, often extractable source of groundwater (see Figures 1 & 2).

Types of Aquifers, Wells and Groundwater Flow

Types of Aquiver flow, groundwater and Wells

Some households have access to groundwater onsite (‘urban wells’ in Fig. 2) but are only allowed to tap into their ‘bore’ water if it is used for non-drinking purposes.

The Urban Water Cycle

There are currently trial bores within the Sydney catchment to assess those aquifers, which will give us a better understanding about potential water resources in case the current drought continues.

Some groundwater issues on the Central Coast:
  • The Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Water Sharing plan: pdf kulnura_mangrove_plan 627.92 Kb
    A recent report by the Centre for Ground Hydrology (Merrick et al.) found that groundwater was being extracted at above sustainable yield levels and that loss of ground water affected the base flow in the streams that provide our drinking water.
  • Extraction from sand beds at Woy Woy Peninsula and along the coast.
  • There is considerable concern that this extraction will impact on vegetation, threatened species and endangered ecological communities.
  • Extraction of groundwater via bores and spearpoints is often not metered or reported. Hence, the actual extraction from groundwater sources is uncertain.

For more information on this topic -

A lack of understanding about groundwater issues

Prof Ian Acworth from the UNSW recently (May 2006) talked on a groundwater forum in Sydney about the importance and lack of knowledge about groundwater issues.

He stressed that groundwater is a larger component of the water cycle than surface water and that the both systems (ground and surface water) are one interconnected system which both depend on rainfall - directly or indirectly. Groundwater provides base-flows for many rivers and visa versa: rivers discharge into groundwater reservoirs.

This cycling rate of water moving from the surface into the ground ('recharge') and groundwater moving out of the ground in a river or creek (discharge) creates a water balance in the environment. If ground water is taken out of the system, water will move in from somewhere else to restore this balance.

Groundwater extraction (i.e. through bores) will thus always have an impact somewhere, whether it happens at the actual extracting location, at the discharge point, the recharge point or somewhere in between. Extraction will also impact on the speed and direction the water is moving.

The difference between surface and groundwater is mainly the speed at which the water moves in it's environment. This is dependant on the environment it travels in (sand, clay etc.) and the water balance (saturation) of the environment.

There is a general lack of knowledge of long term impacts of groundwater extraction and a lack of recharge and discharge data.

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

FM Building, Central Coast Campus,
University of Newcastle,
Loop Road, Ourimbah,
NSW, 2258


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