A Groundwater Quality Restricted Use Zone (GQRUZ) is an area, site or property where an environmental audit has been conducted and was found to have residual groundwater contamination, usually as a result of previous industrial activity.

Note: The Groundwater Quality Restricted Use Zone (GQRUZ) dataset is called “Groundwater Restricted Use” in the Victoria Unearthed map system.

A GQRUZ remains when attempts have been made to clean up the groundwater at the affected site, but full clean-up was not possible - as it is often difficult to remove 100 per cent of groundwater pollution. It also may be impractical to clean up groundwater to the level needed to restore it to its original condition. EPA then identifies restrictions that should remain on how the water can be used without further treatment.

A GQRUZ includes a brief summary of a site’s history, a list of restrictions for the groundwater and also links to any corresponding environmental audit reports.

EPA has been managing the identification of GQRUZs since their introduction in 2002 and updates its GQRUZ information on an ongoing basis.

GQRUZ data has been included in Victoria Unearthed as it provides valuable information about groundwater contamination identified through environmental audits across the state.

Note: Some audit reports are commercial-in-confidence and cannot be published.

If you have any questions about a GQRUZ, please contact EPA.

The EPA has extensive information available on its website about GQRUZs. The GQRUZ data layer is available for download from EPA at https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/land-and-groundwater/groundwater-pollution

Groundwater pollution

Groundwater is water that collects or flows beneath the soil surface, filling the porous spaces in soil, sand, clay and rocks.

The majority of Victoria’s drinking water supply is sourced from surface water (rivers, streams and reservoirs) and accessed via reticulated water supplies from urban water corporations.

Around 50 towns across Victoria are either partially or fully reliant on groundwater as their main source of drinking water. In some circumstances, private groundwater bores are also used as sources of drinking water. Where households use groundwater as their source of drinking water, it may need to be treated prior to use.

Find out more about groundwater use and treatment requirements for drinking water: Groundwater Q&As.

Contact EPA

GQRUZs appear as light-blue dots and light-blue outlined shapes with diagonal lines.  The shapes may only be visible when you zoom in on the map to a scale of 1:250,000 or less. Shapes show a site boundary or area covered by a GQRUZ and the dots are GPS coordinates.

The GQRUZ should only have an impact if you are accessing, or considering accessing, groundwater.

When a GQRUZ has been identified, the auditor responsible for overseeing the cleanup that is associated with the environmental audit must consider any potential risks to human health and the environment. This auditor must make recommendations to EPA, including whether the site requires ongoing controls to be put in place to help protect human health and the environment.

GQRUZs are applied after a site has been environmentally audited and found to have residual groundwater contamination, often as a result of previous industrial activity.

In Victoria Unearthed, click the Identify button on the top toolbar, then tap on a GQRUZ dot or shape to see results linked to that site displayed in the left sidebar. You can also right-click on the map at any time and select “Find data on the map”.

The results will provide you a brief summary of the site’s history, a list of restrictions for the groundwater and also linked environmental audit reports.

EPA applies GQRUZs and a GQRUZ can be removed under certain conditions.

The cleanup and management of polluted groundwater

Page last updated: 28/08/19