Cap and Pipe the Bores 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. Uncontrolled extraction over the past 140 years has seen significant decline in natural pressure. There are 8,000 bores tapping the Great Artesian Basin across NSW. Nearly half the bores have stopped flowing, reducing landholder access to water.

The NSW Government has been partnering with landholders across western NSW through the Cap and Pipe the Bores Project to rehabilitate the Great Artesian Basin. This project has given landholders financial incentives to replace failing artesian bores and bore drains with new bores and efficient reliable water supply systems.


In the past, up to 95 per cent of artesian water was being wasted through evaporation and seepage from bore drains. The Cap and Pipe the Bores program has improved the management of the GAB by:

  • saving 80,000 ML of water every year
  • suppling approximately 4.2 million ha with permanent, reliable, efficient and strategically located watering points
  • controlled 400 free flowing bores
  • removed over 10,000 km of bore drains
  • installed 18,000 km of piping.


A reliable, secure water supply significantly reduces the impact of drought and aids in the preparation of a changing climate. The Cap and Pipe the Bores program has succeeded in assisting landholders with:

  • clean water for better stock production and domestic use
  • secure water supply on properties assisting in drought resilience
  • strategically located watering points in the landscape
  • 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 because of capping and piping. The program is achieving many other benefits such as:

  • increasing artesian pressure
  • increasing access to water
  • reducing salt discharge by 80,000 tonnes every year
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 41,600 tonnes every year
  • improving biodiversity conservation.