Water science studies

The water science studies were conducted between 2014 and 2015 to provide an initial analysis of potential water-related issues and impacts that may arise as a consequence of any development of an onshore natural gas industry.

The studies describe where natural gas might be, where water resources are, and assess what physical connections there may be between these resources.

Where gas and water were thought to be physically connected, the potential impacts on groundwater quantity and quality were investigated. This included potential impacts on groundwater users, surface water users and ecosystems, and possible mitigation strategies.

There are four different types of possible onshore natural gas development in Victoria: conventional, shale, tight and coal seam gas. Hydraulic fracturing and coal seam gas were banned in Victoria in 2017. Different types of gas developments may have different impacts on water resources and so each gas type was assessed in these studies.

The two study regions were the Gippsland and Otway geological basins. These areas are thought to be the most prospective areas in Victoria for onshore natural gas. While the Geological Survey of Victoria has conducted some research into potential areas where onshore natural gas resources may exist, the commercial feasibility of onshore gas development has not been determined.

The four issues investigated with regard to the potential impacts of developing an onshore natural gas industry were:

  • aquifer depressurisation
  • chemical contamination of groundwater from hydraulic fracturing fluids
  • induced seismicity
  • land subsidence.

The studies were undertaken by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning with the assistance of the Geological Survey of Victoria (part of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions), as a joint program.


Gippsland Basin

Otway Basin

Page last updated: 02 Jun 2021