Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative

Beginning in the 1950s regulation required that all new bores be fitted with headworks to control flows, and each of the states started programs to upgrade and control bores and convert drains to piped delivery systems. By the late 1990s more than 1,500 artesian bores continued to flow into more than 34,000km of open bore drains as a result of inadequate technology.

Prior to 1999 a number of programs were commissioned to address the uncontrolled flow of water from artesian bores. Although these programs resulted in 650 flowing bores being controlled and a 126,000 Ml/yr saving of water, the Basin-wide stakeholder perspective was that these rehabilitation programs were uncoordinated and underinvested.

A basin-wide coordinated approach to bore rehabilitation was proposed as part of the Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan 2000, and resulted in the development of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative program. This program was delivered in partnership by the Australian, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Northern Territory governments to provide funding support to repair uncontrolled bores.

GABSI has been fundamental in the restoration and repair of the uncontrolled bores and bore drains since 1999 and has made a successful contribution toward the improvement in pressure within Great Artesian Basin springs and the sustainable management of water resources within the Basin.

GABSI came to an end on 30 June 2017 after 17 years and over $124 million invested by the Australian Government. Under the Federal Financial Relations Intergovernmental Agreement the Commonwealth has matched state funds and has resulted in:

  • More than 750 bores have been upgraded
  • 21,375 km of bore drains being decommissioned
  • 31,537 km of new efficient pipe drains being installed
  • More than 250 GL of water savings per year.

Past GABSI programs

*Phase 1 projects

 NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017SA (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources file records) 30 June 2017Qld (Qld GABSI 3 Final Report) 30 June 2016Phase 1 Totals
Bores controlled111 11151273
Bore drains deleted (kms)3,4093244,7748,507
Piping installed6,2853245,14411,753
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)26,09338,31653,516117,925
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)12.3351.74714.30428.386

*Phase 2 projects

 NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017SA (from Department of the Environment records) 30 June2017Qld (Qld GABSI 3 Final Report) 30 June 2016Phase 2 Totals
Bores controlled117490211
Bore drains deleted (kms)3,03604,2137,249
Piping installed5,25605,91911,175
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)25,07574240,65966,476
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)15.5950.222.73638.531

*Phase 3 projects

 NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017SA (from Department of the Environment records) 30 June2017Qld (Qld GABSI 3 Final Report) 30 June 2016Phase 3 Totals
Bores controlled7428123225
Bore drains deleted (kms)2,051173,2275,295
Piping installed3,451204,7488,219
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)15,9915,62435,91257,527
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)18.0112.92723.70644.644

*Phase 4 projects

 NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017SA (SA GABSI 4 Draft Final Report)Qld (From Qld amended schedule E to GABSI 4 Project Agreement and Qld Completion Report)Phase 4 Totals – not including delayed Qld projects
Bores controlled983047
Bore drains deleted (kms)621260.9323.4
Piping installed710313.9390.9
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)1,6714,2794,67811,057
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)2.786.6253.57612.981

*Totals for all of GABSI – as at 30 June 2017

 NSWSAQldTOTALS
State total GABSI funding ($mil)48.72111.49964.322124.542
State annual water saving (Ml/annum)68,83048,961134,765252,985
State bores controlled31151394756
State bore drains deleted8,55834212,47521,374.4
State piping installed (kms)15,06334416,12531,537.9

*Delayed Queensland GABSI 4 projects

 Qld – to be completed by 30 June 2018 (Qld draft 2017/18 bilateral schedule for GABSI)
Bores controlled3
Bore drains deleted (kms)16
Piping installed15
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)654.5

The Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee has developed a Briefing Note on the GABSI Program, its achievements and the future.

Further information on the GABSI is available on the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee website (link is external).

GABSI contacts

For further information on the delivery of the delayed GABSI 4 Queensland projects contact the Queensland Government call centre on 07 4529 1355 or email GABSI Admin