What is groundwater salinity?
Groundwater suitability for use based on salinity
|Salinity||Suitability for stock watering||Suitability for irrigation|
|EC (µS/cm)||TDS (mg/L)|
|<300||<180||Suitable for all stock||Suitable for most crops and soil types|
|300-800||180-480||Suitable for most crops (may require leaching for sensitive crops)|
|800-2,500||480-1,500||Suitable for some crops (requires adequate leaching and may be a problem on soils with poor drainage. Salt tolerance of plants must be considered)|
|2,500-5,800||1,500-3,480||Suitable only for salt tolerant crops on permeable well drained soils (requires careful management)|
|5,800-7,500||3,480-4,500||Unsuitable for poultry||Suitable only for highly salt tolerant crops on soil with excellent drainage (requires adequate winter rains to leach excess salt from the soil and careful management)|
|7,500-8,500||4,500-5,100||Unsuitable for poultry and pigs||Generally considered too saline for any irrigation|
Unsuitable for poultry and pigs
Generally unsuitable for lambs, calves and weaner stock
|16,500-25,000||9,900-15,000||Suitable only for dry mature sheep and cattle (use with caution for cattle not used to high salinity water)|
|>25,000||>15,000||Unsuitable for all stock|
This table provides some indication of agricultural uses for groundwater with different salinity levels (shown in both EC and TDS).
Groundwater does not need to be low in salinity to provide benefit. For example some surface ecosystems rely on hypersaline (extremely salty) groundwater to survive and thrive. The State Environment Protection Policy (Groundwaters of Victoria) (SEPP GoV) protects the beneficial uses of groundwater according to salinity levels.
Beneficial uses of groundwater
|Beneficial uses||Salinity (mg/L TDS)|
|Maintenance of ecosystems||X||X||X||X||X|
|Potable water supply (desirable)||X|
|Potable water supply (acceptable)||X|
|Potable mineral water supply||X||X||X|
|Agriculture, parks and gardens||X||X||X|
|Industrial water use||X||X||X||X||X|
|Primary contact recreation (swimming)||X||X||X||X|
|Buildings and structures||X||X||X||X||X|
This table shows the beneficial uses of groundwater based in salinity levels.
Salinity across the region
To see how groundwater salinity varies across the region and in different aquifer, visit our Southern Victoria map.