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. There are 1,400 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 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.

Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative

The Cap and 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 and 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 and 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

Interim Great Artesian Basin Infrastructure Investment Program

The Commonwealth and NSW governments have recently announced new joint funding of $4.5M available for further investment in the rehabilitation of the GAB over the next two years until June 2019.

Eligible flowing bores have been assessed and prioritised for capping and piping infrastructure works. Works are currently underway.