The connection between the removal of native vegetation, rising water tables and increasing stream salinity has been established for many catchments across Australia. However, the West Moorabool River in south west Victoria is an example of a catchment where there has been little discernable effect on groundwater levels following land clearing. Over the past 150 years, a significant portion of the catchment has been cleared of dense forest for agricultural development. Historic standing water-level records from 1870-1871 and 1881 are compared with contemporary measurements (1970s to 2007) recorded in the government bore databases. The data show that the earliest recorded groundwater levels are well within the seasonal range of values observed today. By integrating geology and hydrogeology with historical observations of groundwater levels, climate data and land use, the contemporary field observations of stream salinity are linked to the changed water use and shift in rainfall. In contrast to the normally accepted axiom, reafforestation as a management strategy to mitigate the rising salinity in the West Moorabool River catchment would seem inappropriate.
- Environmental history
- Land use