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 used for livestock and domestic purposes, with 40% of this 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 2032, 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 may be eligible for at least 30% of the water saved as a water licence. For more information, email or

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

Programs to cap and pipe stock and domestic bores have been ongoing for decades and significant investment has been made to achieve the objective of making the Basin watertight.

Almost 770 bores have been rehabilitated and 450 bores piped. Around 15,000 kilometres of open drains have been decommissioned over the years. This has saved more than 226,000 megalitres of water with investment of over $243 million from the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments and industry.

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) has funded 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.

Despite these successes there are still outstanding projects within Queensland that require works to be rehabilitated or replaced.

In 2023, an assessment was completed (PDF, 115KB) by the department and found that:

  • Drought and natural disasters over the past decade have economically constrained many landholders from being able to undertake the works.
  • The current Improving Great Artesian Basin Drought Resilience (IGABDR) program is fully subscribed and only funded until June 2024.
  • There will be outstanding projects after June 2024.
  • There are likely to be ongoing impediments including a scarcity of class three drillers, weather conditions limiting site access, and increasing costs for services and materials required to complete the works on time.

Based on these findings, the department has extended the deadline for affected GAB bore owners to install watertight delivery systems. The new installation date is 2 September 2032.

This change of date will ensure landholders have more time to undertake the works required and will remain compliant with the water plan in 2027. For further enquiries, please email

The following initiatives under GABRP are helping us reach our goal of making the Basin watertight by 2032:

  • 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.

Whilst funds are fully allocated under these two programs, the Queensland Government is seeking opportunities for future support.

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 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

Early uncapped bore emptying into open bore drain
Bore drilled in the early 1900s free-flowing into a bore drain

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