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Lake Cave & Jewel Cave Eco-Hydrology Recovery Projects

Lake Cave located in the Margaret River region of southwest Western Australia is renowned for its beautiful and spectacular underground lake. The cave has been visited by tourists for more than 100 years, and it continues to be a major tourism drawcard in the region, attracting more than 44,000 visitors annually. Besides its important tourism values, the cave also harbours a Subterranean Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem (SGDE) comprising stygofauna and an aquatic root mat community.

Groundwater levels in Lake Cave remained relatively stable and showed no sign of decline up until 2005, after which time there has been a progressive decline and dramatic reduction of the size of the lake in the cave.
Water Testing  in Lake Cave
Stygofauan Sample Lake Cave
This has reduced the visual appeal for visitors, and threatened the aquatic root mat community. Without intervention, the lake would have dried-up for the first time in more than 100 years of tourism visitation.

Subterranean Ecology in partnership with the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association (AMRTA) and Department of Environment & Conservation, and supported by grants from the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Grant Scheme, initiated the Lake Cave Eco-Hydrology Recovery Project in 2010.

The project has succeeded in controlling the water level decline in Lake Cave by harvesting rainfall on site and using this to supplement natural recharge in the lake. Careful monitoring during the recharge trial has demonstrated no adverse impacts to water quality or stygofauna communities.

A similar investigation to recover groundwater levels is underway in Jewel Cave, where the underground lake and its once famous reflections have already disappeared.