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REHABILITATING THE GREAT ARTESIAN BASIN

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Weigh Bridge

Bore drain

Funded by

Australian Government logo

Further info

When you get a call from DCQ staff members, remember this is not about compliance, it’s all about explaining what is going on, confirming a few facts and answering any queries.

 

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In the second half of the 19th century, the Great Artesian Basin was discovered. By drilling bores to bring the pressurised and hot free-flowing water to the surface, this supply of water opened the outback to rich pastoral and community development.

Hundreds of bores were sunk, the water reticulated by thousands of kilometres of bore drains through black soil plains.

But by the second half of the 20th Century, it was realised that this gift of nature was not infinite. Pressure from the basin dropped. Where artesian bores pushed water to the surface by subterranean pressure, they slowed, and some stopped. Artesian bores became sub-artesian bores, meaning water had to be pumped to the surface by windmills and engine powered pumps.

The Great Artesian Basin Rehabilitation Scheme was initiated. State jurisdictions, the Commonwealth and landholders partnered in capping and controlling free flowing artesian bores and replacing bore drains with pipes to stop evaporation and seepage and to give better control over getting water to livestock.

To date the state government, the commonwealth and landholders have invested $234 million in this rehabilitation program with 749 bores rehabilitated and nearly 15,000 kilometres of bore drain decommissioned and replaced by piped reticulation.

But there is more work to be done. Around 209 free-flowing bores remain uncontrolled, and there are over 4,000 kilometres of open bore drains reticulating water.

Under regulatory protocols, the Queensland Government has set a sunset date of September 2032 when, with some minor exceptions, all artesian bores are required to be capped and all open bore drains replaced by piped reticulation.

 

Making the Basin WaterTight

The Queensland Government has established the WaterTight program to be carried out by the Natural Resource Management groups, Desert Channels Queensland (lead partner), Southern Gulf NRM and South Queensland Landscapes. All these regions cover part of the GAB.

All registered owners of uncontrolled bores and bore drains will be contacted by staff members of the NRM groups for informal conversations to confirm the current status of uncontrolled bores and open bore drains.

The submission of the Queensland Government’s Bore Management Statement will be discussed with landholders. This document will give the government an idea of the landholders plans to meet the requirements of the GAB protocols and how and when they can achieve these outcomes.

When you get a call from DCQ staff members, remember this is not about compliance, it’s all about explaining what is going on, confirming a few facts and answering any queries.

Dick Cribb

Checking the pressure on a rehabilitated bore, near Aramac

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