ADELAIDE, AAP – The South Australian government will investigate new sources of groundwater to support economic growth in the state’s outback.

The Department for Environment and Water will carry out research focusing on a deep, confined aquifer known as the Cotabena Formation, which stretches from Port Pirie to northwest of Leigh Creek, in the state’s north.

The program aims to identify the quality and quantity of the groundwater available, improve understanding of regional water resources and inform decisions on shared use.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the department was currently working with local landholders after identifying areas to make groundwater assessments.

“The work will involve drilling two bores to conduct pump tests, as well as two observation bores,” Mr Speirs said.

“Airborne geophysics data across the Braemar region is also being processed by the CSIRO to identify palaeo-valleys most suitable for groundwater investigations in this area.

“If a suitable quality and quantity of water is confirmed, these groundwater resources could help ensure sustainable water supplies to support communities, agriculture, industry and the environment in the northern region – now and into the future.”

Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said a scarcity of water was a significant barrier to economic development throughout outback South Australia.

“If we can deliver increased supplies of water at a lower cost, without adversely impacting on the environment, regional and remote South Australians will enjoy access to more jobs and business opportunities,” he said.