Great Artesian Basin Bore Survey Project

The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world. It lies below 25 per cent of NSW and supports a population of more than 200,000. There are ~8,000 water supply bores tapping the Great Artesian Basin across NSW. Since the 1950s water pressure across the Basin has declined  . Overuse and uncontrolled flowing bores are the cause. Many bores have stopped flowing, reducing landholder access to water.

Since 1999 the NSW Government has been partnering with landholders across western NSW. The Cap & Pipe the Bores Program is part of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW governments. The Program aims to rehabilitate the Great Artesian Basin. It provides financial incentives to landholders to fix bores and/or install piped water systems. As a result of the Program, during the last decade some areas have seen increased pressure of up to 10 metres. Several bores may start to flow again. This is a concern as some bores are very old and may fail.

In 2018 the NSW Government began the Great Artesian Basin Bore Survey Project. The Project gathers information on bores that access the Great Artesian Basin. This information helps to assess pressure recovery and prioritise future infrastructure and water management strategies and funding for the Basin. It also informs the renewal of the Water Sharing Plan for the Basin.

The Bore Survey Project:

  • identifies the number of artesian bores
  • assigns bore integrity risks
  • measures/estimates total extraction/discharge
  • quantifies uncontrolled discharge/leakage
  • estimates current and future basic landholder right requirements
  • assesses water quality status
  • identifies current and predicted renewed flowing bores.

In 2018 we visited 226 bores.  In 2019, the NSW government extended the survey to another 432 bores. Each bore survey included:

  • a visual inspection of the bore headworks and water distribution infrastructure
  • the measurement of water pressure, flow and level, and gas emissions
  • in-situ water quality testing
  • the collection of a water sample
  • the collection of general information about historical and future water use requirements
  • the taking of geo-tagged photos.

All participating landholders receive a bore condition and water quality report.

Another 390 bores are to be  surveyed in 2020.

Critical on-site information, measurements and water quality analyses obtained by the project will be used for:

  • prioritising bores for future rehabilitation projects
  • inform the scoping of future funding
  • input into the remake of the GAB Water Sharing Plan
  • provide evidence-based information for future predictions of GAB hydro-dynamics
  • protection of GAB natural springs