Norfolk Island Water Resource Assessment project

Water availably

In 2019, the CSIRO was engaged by the department to assess Norfolk Island's surface and groundwater resources and options to increase water security. The assessment was part of the Norfolk Island Water Resource Assessment (NIWRA) project, with the information helping inform government and community actions to build water resilience, individually and collectively.

The first part of the NIWRA is now completed which includes in a full technical report and summary report.

In response to the findings, the department requested the CSIRO continue monitoring surface and groundwater resource supplies, and further investigate two issues impacting on water security: woody weeds and cloud interception.

  • The continued groundwater resource monitoring will assist in building a better understanding of water availability on Norfolk Island over time.
  • The woody weeds work includes GIS mapping of four woody weed species: Red guava, Hawaiian holly, African olive, and Cotoneaster. This mapping can contribute in the management of woody weeds across the island.
  • The cloud interception study is summarised in a short report, and detailed in a longer publication.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data, and the rainwater app, were developed by the CSIRO specifically for residents and businesses on Norfolk Island.  The rainwater app enables users to evaluate the reliability of existing and proposed roof-harvested rainwater systems (catchment and storage).

All completed outputs from the CSIRO NIWRA project are available on the links below.

Water quality

The NIWRA includes a focus on water quality. CSIRO have been engaged to set up a water quality monitoring program, identify water quality targets and provide information to support catchment management planning in Kingston. This will assist in understanding how to make improvements to water quality on Norfolk Island as well as reef health.

The first report from the water quality component of the NIRWA is focused on marine water quality in Emily, Slaughter and Cemetery Bays. 

Water quality guideline values can be used for managing aquatic ecosystems to achieve particular outcomes. They can also act as benchmarks to measure change in water quality due to climate change impacts, land use practices and management interventions. 

After one year of monitoring, silica, nitrogen, phosphorus and copper were detected in levels above the interim guidelines in Emily and Slaughter Bays. These will be the focus of ongoing monitoring. 

Acid Sulfate Soils

CSIRO field investigations between 2019 and 2022 confirmed the presence of acid sulfate soils across Norfolk Island. Locations of acid sulfate soils have been mapped. Management recommendations to avoid disturbance and drying of acid sulfate soils, and therefore impacts on infrastructure and environmental health, have been made.


For additional information