Salinity in Bores

Unfortunately, the majority of bores in Melbourne and many parts of Victoria will have salinity issues to a certain degree with the water requiring treatment in one form or another. Only a few areas though are lucky enough to have aquifers that produce good enough water to pump straight onto the point of use. It is therefore recommended not to install a pump on your bore until you have the results of your water analysis, this can be arranged for you for an additional fee.

One of the main issues with salinity is that it builds up in the soil over a period of time especially in heavy soils or when there is inadequate rainfall to flush the salts out of the soil. There are several ways to deal with water high in salinity.

One of these is simply to mix or ‘shandy’ it with rainwater either in tanks or a dam.

Another method is to fit a magnetic water conditioner such as those produced by Delta Water Solutions (for whom we are an agent). Magnetic conditioners do not remove or lower levels of salts in the water. They simply ionize the water molecules so that they behave differently and are not attracted to the salt molecules. This allows the salt molecules to be flushed from the soil which in turn retained more water. Unfortunately, these conditioners are only viable for electrical conductivities (EC) of up to 6000.

Note: To all the skeptics out there that think these magnets are ‘hocus-pocus’: we installed one in a bore in Healesville which has an EC of 3500. Before the conditioner, a few plants were lost and the garden looked pretty sad. With the conditioner, the garden has taken off and now looks great. I would not be recommending these units if they didn’t work.

For very high salinity and for the best quality water a de-salination unit will have to be installed. Whilst these units are costly to install, once they are running, you are guaranteed a constant supply of quality water which can be used for almost anything. A few issues to be aware of with de-salination units are that first of all you will need a storage tank and pressure pump for the processed water as the output of a de-salination unit is very low and not sufficient to put straight onto the garden. Another is that you need some way of disposing of the by-product or brine that is left over from the process. This is fine for people living in the cities connected up to the sewer system, however, those of us in rural areas need to be a bit more creative. One method is to make use of shallow poly lined evaporation ponds. For de-salination equipment suppliers and installers, check the links page.

We have a fairly good idea as to which areas have good water and which areas have bad water (high salt levels) and we will try our best to inform customers of what to expect before we drill. All this said, there are still no guarantees on what the quality of the water will ultimately be. Occasionally a high salinity bore can be drilled in an area that is known to be generally good.

If you would like to check for yourself, take a look at the interactive maps on the following links: Groundwater resource reports and Visualising Victorias Groundwater

Also, you can click on the following link for information on water quality and tolerance guidelines.