Cap & Pipe the Bores Program

From 1999 to 2017, the Cap & Pipe the Bores Program helped rehabilitate the Great Artisan Basin by giving landholders financial incentives to replace failing bores with new reliable water systems but there’s still a significant amount of rehabilitation work to be done. For this reason, from July 1 2019, this successful program will be implemented for a further four years with new criteria and a NSW Government commitment of $13M.

New program criteria, based on drought resilience, will mean that landholders – who didn’t previously qualify for works under the original program –  will now have an opportunity to achieve secure reliable water supplies. $13M has been committed by the NSW Government, and a further $13M is being sought from the Commonwealth.

New program will commence in July 2019 and include a significant capping and piping component.

Details will be published to this page as soon as they are available.

The information below relates to the previous implementation of this program.

The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world. It lies below 25 per cent of NSW supporting a population of over 200,000. There are ~8,000 water supply bores tapping the Great Artesian Basin across NSW. Natural pressure across the basin has significantly declined due to overuse. Nearly half the bores have stopped flowing, reducing landholder access to water.

Over many years the NSW government has been partnering with landholders across western NSW through the Cap & Pipe the Bores Program to rehabilitate the Great Artesian Basin. This program has given landholders financial incentives to replace failing  artesian bores and bore drains with new bores and efficient reliable water supply systems.

Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative

The Cap & Pipe the Bores Program is part of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments. GABSI was implemented between 1999 and 2017.


In the past, up to 95 per cent of artesian water was being wasted through evaporation and seepage. Today, the Cap & Pipe the Bores Program has improved the management of the GAB through the following achievements:

  • saving 78,500 ML of water every year
  • supplied approximately 4.2 million ha with permanent, reliable, efficient and strategically located watering points
  • controlled 398 free flowing bores
  • removed over 10,000 km of bore drains
  • installed 18,000 km of piping


A reliable water supply significantly reduces the impact of drought. The Cap & Pipe the Bores Program has succeeded in assisting landholders with:

  • clean water for better stock production and domestic use
  • more reliable water supply on properties
  • strategically located watering points in the landscape
  • more efficient property management
  • assisted land managers to achieve more sustainable property and stock management
  • feral animal control

Increases in artesian bore pressure are being observed in many areas across the GAB as a result of capping and piping. The program is achieving many other benefits such as:

  • increasing artesian pressure, increasing access to water
  • reducing salt discharge by 62,800 tonnes every year
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 41,600 tonnes every year
  • improving biodiversity conservation