Bore construction and approvals

Queensland has a range of requirements that apply to bore construction and taking groundwater. All are designed to protect our groundwater resources and ensure they are used appropriately and efficiently.

Drilling for water also involves substantial financial outlay, so it's important you make informed decisions before going ahead.

This guide provides information on bore construction, including approvals, how to find a bore driller and construction standards.

Approval to construct a bore

Before starting any work to construct a bore, test hole or well, you should contact us to find out what approvals are required. Depending on your location and the purpose of the bore, you may need:

  • a water licence or water entitlement to take the underground water
  • a development approval to construct the bore or other related work.

If the bore will be deeper than 6 metres, you'll need to employ a suitably licensed water bore driller to supervise or carry out the activity (see 'Finding a driller' below).

Contact your local business centre and have the following information at hand:

  • the location of the property on which you want to sink the bore – rural road address or lot on plan number
  • how you intend to use the water from the bore
  • if you have a current licence to take groundwater
  • details of your licence.

Note: Special licensing rules apply to underground water taken for mining and resource activities.

Groundwater assessment

It's important to assess your potential groundwater supplies to determine maximum depth, expected water quantity and quality, and preferred drilling sites.

Your drilling contractor may be a good source of information or you can hire a private hydrogeological consultant.

You can contact your local business centre to see whether drilling or water bore records are available. You can also check for bore reports online using Queensland Globe.

Bore location

In addition to hydrogeological aspects, you should consider the following when siting a bore:

  • possible sources of pollution (e.g. septic installation)
  • property boundaries and proximity to where the water is required
  • source of power to drive pump
  • neighbouring bores, to avoid potential pumping interference
  • service facilities including power, telephone lines and gas.

Finding a driller

It is your responsibility to engage a person who holds a current Queensland driller licence. The licence class must be appropriate for the type of drilling to be undertaken. Find out more about the classes of driller licences.

We maintain a list of registered water bore drillers (PDF, 195KB) who have agreed to have their details published.

Drilling agreements

The construction of a water supply bore usually underpins an enterprise reliant on that water supply. It is in your interest to ensure that the bore is constructed to a standard that delivers a reliable product.

Before engaging a drilling contractor, and to protect your interests, you should come to an agreement on a number of points:

  • whether the drilling rig is capable of doing the job
  • approximate depth to be drilled
  • the charge for a 'dry' hole
  • the charge for a completed bore
  • tests to be carried out on completion (to determine water quality and quantity).

You can view a sample contract document (agreement) at the back of the Minimum construction requirements for water bores in Australia (PDF, 10MB).

Bore construction

Construction standards

All water bore drilling activities, including water bores and test holes, need to comply with construction standards, including special requirements for bores in the Great Artesian Basin. In addition, special care is needed when drilling in coal seam gas areas. Find out more about construction standards for water bores.

In general, you should be guided by your drilling contractor when it comes to the best means of constructing the bore. However, there are some important details that should be considered before drilling starts:

  • bore casing should be of suitable material and strength to prevent collapse of the hole
  • sufficient casing should be inserted so that when the pump is operating no part of the pump is exposed to open hole conditions
  • the bore does not pump fine particles or sand; entry via open hole conditions should be considered only when the stratum is known to be very stable
  • the casing is large enough to accommodate the pump proposed.

Drilling records

On completion, the driller must send a copy of the drill log form to the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water within 60 business days of commencement of drilling. You are advised to ask your driller to provide you with a copy of the drill log form showing the details of depths, material penetrated, construction details and the supply obtained.

It is recommended that you keep a copy of any drilling records so bore details can be retrieved to diagnose any future problems. You can access bore reports online using Queensland Globe. Check the help section for instructions.

Bore testing

When a bore has been completed and before it is equipped, the available water supply should be tested for quality and quantity.

Quick tests such as a conductivity test or a 'taste test' give an indication of the quality only and do not provide sufficient data to determine the overall suitability of the water for your needs. You should consider obtaining a complete water analysis from a private analyst.

Before you equip the bore you should conduct a proper test of the bore supply to ensure it meets your requirements and the proposed pumping equipment matches the yield of the bore.

Bore disinfection

There have been significant problems with iron bacteria in bores over much of the state. The iron bacteria may be transported from bore to bore or can be present in the aquifer. Once a bore is infected, it is extremely difficult to completely eradicate the bacteria.

We therefore recommend that all new bores be treated with a sterilising agent.

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