Pump it Up

A beige coloured table with a blue information panel in the background. On the table is a scale model of a water pump and water tank.
A beige coloured table with a blue information panel in the background. On the table is a scale model of a water pump and water tank.

Surface water and groundwater are connected within a system, rather than being isolated.

How it works

Turn the handle to fill the water tank with groundwater from the bore.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • How are groundwater and surface water connected?
  • What happens to the water level in the river?

Background

Groundwater sits in spaces between grains of soil or rock, then it slowly flows through to aquifers (underground pools of water). Although you can’t always tell from above, surface water in many rivers, lakes and wetlands is connected to underground water resources in aquifers. Pumping water from one water body will affect an adjoining water body.

In the past, ground and surface water systems have been managed separately. This led to the same water being counted twice, resulting in an overestimation of the amount of water available. Scientists are working to understand the connectivity between ground and surface water, so our water resources can be calculated more accurately and managed more effectively.

Finding the science in your world

Towns and farms in outback Australia tend to rely on groundwater as their only source of water. Remote towns and farms access groundwater by sinking bores deep into the ground (until it reaches an aquifer) and using pumps to bring water to the surface. Perth also sources about 70% of its water as groundwater from the Gnangara Mound.