Great Artesian Basin rehabilitation program

The Queensland Great Artesian Basin provides a vital water source for over 80 Queensland communities. This economic, cultural, and social powerhouse is the lifeblood of regional Queensland.

Each year, around 150,000ML of water from the Basin is taken for livestock and domestic purposes, but 64% of this is lost through evaporation and seepage in open-air drains.

Water loss from uncapped bores and uncontrolled water flows have resulted in reduced pressure and significant environmental challenges.

Improving water use efficiency

The Queensland Government continues to work closely with the Australian Government, landholders, investors and other stakeholders to save water and restore pressure. We aim to make the Basin watertight by 2027, a goal legislated in the Great Artesian Basin and other regional aquifers (GABORA) water plan.

This involves managing water flow by rehabilitating or replacing bores, and replacing open bore drains with pipes, tanks and troughs.

Under the GABORA water plan, water entitlements can now be issued for a proportion of the water saved through privately funded capping and piping works. Works that are completed with the help of government funding are not eligible for these water entitlements.

Under section 51 of the GABORA water plan, landholders or other parties who fund work on behalf of the landholder to make a bore watertight are eligible for at least 30% of the water saved as a water licence. For more information, email GABPMO@rdmw.qld.gov.au.

The Australian Government, together with the Queensland Government and other Basin state and territory governments, has developed an updated GAB strategic management plan for 2019–2034. This will improve the coordination of management practices across state boundaries and encourage water-efficient practices.

Rehabilitation programs

Since 1989, the Queensland Government has invested $85 million in programs to cap and pipe stock and domestic bores. Together with landholders and the Australian Government, the total investment is more than $234 million.

So far, this work has rehabilitated 749 bores, decommissioned 14,788km of bore drains and each year saved an estimated 218,777ML of water.

Groundwater pressure is increasing in the Great Artesian Basin thanks to this capping and piping work. The increased water pressure is resulting in the re-emergence of natural springs and wetland ecosystems, providing important habitats for native wildlife and plants.

The Queensland Government's Natural Resources Recovery Program (NRRP) is currently funding a project delivered by Desert Channels Queensland to identify and protect re-emerging springs throughout the Great Artesian Basin.

The Great Artesian Basin Rehabilitation Program (GABRP) is the current funding program for the Queensland section of the Great Artesian Basin.

The following initiatives under GABRP are helping us reach our goal of making the Basin watertight by 2027:

  • Improving Great Artesian Basin Drought Resilience (IGABDR) – to improve water security and drought resilience for landholders
  • Great Artesian Basin Industry Partnership Program (GABIPP) – to attract private investors to fund rehabilitation works on behalf of the landholder.

Improving Great Artesian Basin Drought Resilience (IGABDR)

The Queensland Government has committed $9.1 million to continue bore capping and piping work through to 2024, matching Australian Government funding.

The IGABDR program will co-fund water supply infrastructure projects that contribute to water security and drought resilience in the Basin.

For more information, email GABPMO@rdmw.qld.gov.au or phone (07) 4529 1355.

Great Artesian Basin industry partnership program (GABIPP)

This innovative program provides an opportunity for private investors to fund the rehabilitation of a bore on behalf of the bore owner, in exchange for community goodwill, environmental benefits or a tradeable water licence.

By funding the rehabilitation of a bore on behalf of the bore owner, investors can be part of one of the largest environmental remediation programs in Australian history.

The first contributor to GABIPP has provided $3 million over 3 years.

To find out how to get involved in GABIPP as an investor, email GABPMO@rdmw.qld.gov.au.

Early bore without headworks emptying into open bore drains
Bore drilled in the early 1900s free-flowing into a bore drain

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