The first of two large free-flowing wells in the Great Artesian Basin’s west have been sealed as part of the third phase of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative, a $2 million partnership between the State and Federal governments to conserve and manage groundwater across the basin.


The decommissioning of ‘Big Blythe’ has seen a stop to the release of over 1000 megalitres of water and almost 2500 tonnes of salt each year.


Once both wells are capped, an estimated 3.8 megalitres of artesian ground water a day, or 45 litres per second, will be saved.


Work has begun on sealing the second well, ‘Johnsons No. 3’, and another high pressure well in the middle of the basin will also be rehabilitated as part of the current work program.


Actions completed across the north-east of NSW include reducing the number of leaking wells and replacing three artesian wells within the one pastoral lease with one well and a water reticulation system.


The first two phases of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative involved rehabilitating freeflowing wells and installing controlled pipe-watering systems across the basin to maximise water savings.


The State and Federal governments each invested $1.94 million in the first two stages of the initiative to help recover artesian pressures and reduce water wastage, with BHP Billiton also investing $1.2 million, with in-kind contributions by pastoral landholders to install piping systems.