Groundwater ecosystems contain a unique suite of microbes and invertebrates that provide valuable ecosystem services, including maintenance of aquifer porosity and flow, and breakdown of many contaminants.  Regulation of groundwater systems has previously focused on the effects of groundwater extraction on beneficial uses, or as a source of contaminants to surface waters, rather than on the protection of groundwater ecosystems themselves.  Gaps in our knowledge of groundwater processes and ecology have hampered our understanding of what governs groundwater quality, i.e. its physical, chemical and biological properties, at various scales. Major contaminant threats to groundwater quality include increased levels of salinity, nutrients, acidity, metals, pesticides and other organic chemicals, from both diffuse and point sources.

Due to the connectivity between groundwater and surface waters, a holistic approach to their management and protection is required.  However, groundwaters have unique physicochemical and hydrological properties, and often endemic biota, that necessitate the development of specific groundwater quality objectives. Nevertheless, many of the ecotoxicological tools used to assess the health of surface waters could be modified and applied to assessing risks to groundwater quality.  Key needs are tools that provide early warning of impacts, together with different lines of evidence in a weight-of-evidence approach.

This talk will highlight some of the emerging contaminants from industrial, mining, coal seam gas and defence activities e.g. PFOS, that have the potential to impact groundwater quality and ecological health.  This requires a better understanding of how the properties of unsaturated and saturated zones may affect contaminant bioavailability and the response of groundwater biota. Case studies demonstrating the application of new ecotoxicological tools such as bioassays and molecular (-omics) techniques to assess impacts on groundwater biota and biodiversity will be discussed.

Tuesday 30 October, 4.30 - 5.30pm

Queensland University of Technhology, Gardens Point, Z Block, Level 10 (Gibson Room)



About Other Events

The UQ Energy Initiative is much more than only our Energy Exchange Industry Engagement, and Energy Express Seminars! Please check this space regularly for other events that may be of interest to you.