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Summary of past drilling activity within the Great Artesian Basin, Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee



Summary of past drilling activity within the Great Artesian Basin, Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee


Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; D0851




Great Artesian Basin


The Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee (GABCC) requested bore hole data from the state and territory government databases to be collated to estimate the number of bore holes that have been drilled into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). This is to inform discussions on the legacy of the 140 years of past drilling activity with respect to the long term management of the groundwater resources of the GAB.


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- Scope -- Limitations of the data -- Summary of all available data -- Total number of reported bore holes drilled -- Date of construction -- Water bore data -- Drilling in areas of artesian conditions -- Water supply bore depths -- Estimated replacement value of water supply bores -- Number of bores with uncontrolled artesian flow -- Discussion -- Appendix A-E




Great Artesian Basin; Drilling Activity

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Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee

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27 pages : colour illustrations, colour maps, tables ; 30 cm.

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Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee.



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27 Appendix E. Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative Throughout the last 140 years, water has been extracted from the aquifers of the GAB through manmade bores. Approximately one third of the original artesian bores have ceased to flow, and the loss of over 1,000 natural springs (and their ecosystems) has occurred. In 1939, at an interstate conference it was recognised that the wastage of water from freeflowing bores was a major problem. This report was completed in 1945, however it was not until 1954 that the Artesian Waters Investigations Committee provided a report that was published and addressed the problems separately in each State. At that time there were more than 1,500 flowing bores discharging more than 1,200 ML/day into an estimated 34,000 km of open bore drains across the Basin. Well over 90% of this water was being wasted. Some gains were made over the first half of the last century but in many regions pressures continued to diminish and many bores ceased to flow. Inadequate knowledge of the Basin, too little legislative control over water extraction, and ineffective infrastructure technology and management practices meant that valuable water resources continued to be wasted. Improvements in technology, management practice and legislation over the past several decades resulted in some incremental improvements, but lasting solutions for Basin-wide problems proved difficult. The SA bore rehabilitation project commenced in 1977. In 1989, the Commonwealth and State Governments initiated the Great Artesian Basin Rehabilitation Program, with work in Queensland, NSW and SA. The program shared the cost of capping bores between land managers and the Commonwealth and State Governments. By the mid 1990s more than two-thirds of the water extracted from the GAB was still being wasted and the artesian pressure was still falling in the Basin. The rate of investment and control from governments and landholders was not sufficient and a more concerted and coordinated effort was required. Even after more than eighty years, the core problem was still the continued waste of water into open bore drains, and the continued decline in artesian pressures. The Great Artesian Basin Consultative Council (GABCC) was established in 1998 in response to longstanding concern from the water users and governments about the need to control flowing bores and eliminate the waste of water in the GAB. A Strategic Management Plan for the Great Artesian Basin was developed under the auspices of the Council and signed off by State and Australian Government Ministers and released in 2000. The Plan provided a comprehensive fifteen-year strategy to improve the water delivery infrastructure and management of the Basin. A new Plan is currently in development. The Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) was established as the enabling programme under the Strategic Management Plan to provide funding support to repair uncontrolled bores and replace bores drains with pipeline reticulation systems to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Great Artesian Basin. It is a joint program between the Australian, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments and landholders. GABSI and its predecessor programs have focused on the rehabilitation of free-flowing bores and the replacements of open bore drains with pipes. This has resulted in pressure increases and significant water savings in many areas. To date 756 bores have been rehabilitated and 21,375 kilometers of bore drain have been replaced with piping, saving an estimated 252,556 megalitres of water every year.

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