Bore scheme seems to work
Water pressure in the Great Artesian Basin appears to be recovering as more bores are capped.
A two-year research project into the world's largest artesian system is now complete.
The Great Artesian Basin - spanning almost 1.7 million kilometres beneath Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales - supports tens of thousands of people every day, generating almost $13 billion a year.
However, uncontrolled water flow from bores and open earth bore drains has reduced the pressure and volume of the vital supply.
At the launch of the new Great Artesian Interpretive Centre in Miles on Queensland's Western Downs, details of the research project were presented.
“There are pictures from over 100 years ago of bores with water columns shooting into the air literally. Tens of metres into the air,” said Chief investigator Associate Professor Phil Hayes.
“We certainly don't see that today, so we know much higher pressures were there in the past.
“But pressures have recovered as the amount of water that we are taking from the basin is reduced.”
The Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) was launched 20 years ago, and involved upgrading bores, decommissioning bore drains and the installation of more efficient pipe drains.
Experts say the scheme has saved more than 250 gigalitres of water per year.
A/Prof Hayes says that the Great Artesian Basin is vast, but not endless.
“We need to move towards balancing our abstraction with the amounts of water that are naturally recharging,” he said
“There is only a relatively small amount of that is actually accessible.
“We do need to really think hard about our balance of how much water we take out versus how much water is going in.”