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Improving Great Artesian Basin Drought Resilience

The Australian Government has made funding available for the installation and maintenance of wells and associated distribution networks. These funds are available on a cost sharing basis for landholders who are accessing water from the Great Artesian Basin. 

Owners of wells completed within the Great Artesian Basin are invited to lodge an expression of interest to be involved in this program which will co-fund eligible water supply infrastructure projects that contribute to water security and drought resilience in the Great Artesian Basin.

This includes:

  • replacement of aging wells
  • decommissioning of wells
  • installation of water-tight distribution infrastructure
  • replacement of aging water distribution infrastructure.

Funding will be provided through the Commonwealth Government’s $27.6m Improving Great Artesian Basin Drought Resilience (IGABDR) program. This is a cooperative multi-state and territory (SA, NSW, QLD and NT), five-year program that commenced on 1 July 2019.

Background

The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world, underlying approximately 1.7 million km2, or 22 per cent of the Australian continent.

In South Australia, Great Artesian Basin water supports the mining, petroleum, pastoral and tourism industries, which collectively are worth more than $3 billion a year (Frontier Economics 2016, DEM 2019). As demand for this precious resource continues to grow, it is important that water infrastructure is maintained and water is sourced judiciously.

Significant public and private funds have been invested in developing and protecting the Great Artesian Basin water resource to support and sustain its economic, social and environmental values. The IGABDR program follows on from previous programs including Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) and Interim Great Artesian Basin Infrastructure Investment Program (IGABIIP) running since 1999.

Achievements

Infrastructure programs have saved the South Australian portion of the Great Artesian Basin  approximately 48,961 ML of Great Artesian Basin water per year (estimate for 2017/18) and have been central in stabilising declining aquifer pressures.

Key achievements include:

  • controlling 51 bores
  • eliminating 342 bore drains
  • installation of 344 km of efficient piping.

Benefits

The IGABDR program can assist eligible landholders to maintain wells and water distribution infrastructure, contributing to sustainable management of water resources.  This is through reducing water loss, improving aquifer pressure and the health of basin-dependent springs.

Key benefits include:

  • providing clean water for better stock production and domestic use
  • assisting land managers to achieve more sustainable and productive property and stock management, through:
    • maintained and strategically located watering points
    • secure water supply on properties assisting in building drought resilience
    • feral animal control
  • meeting statutory responsibilities for well maintenance and water-tight delivery
  • supporting judicious use of groundwater
  • improving long term viability of the GAB resource
  • supporting a healthy resource including springs.

Legislation

Legislation and planning in South Australia that defines the responsibilities of landholders with respect to well maintenance includes:

  • The Natural Resources Management Act 2004 which places responsibility for well maintenance with the occupier or lessee of the land on which the well is located. The responsibility for well maintenance will remain under the new Landscape South Australia Act 2019 which replaces the NRM Act from 1 July 2020.
  • The Board’s Water Allocation Plan (WAP) for the Far North Prescribed Wells Area, requires that water be used judiciously.  It also requires that water for stock and domestic purposes must only be taken if the water reticulation system is maintained as a water-tight delivery system. A water-tight delivery system is a self-enclosed water reticulation, piped system with no leaks, including within the well headworks.

How to apply

For more information on this opportunity please contact:

Senior Water Resource Officer Aaron Smith 
Phone: 08 8648 5300
E
mail: Aaron.Smith3@sa.gov.au

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