In 2018 the NSW Government initiated a Great Artesian Basin Bore Survey Project which aimed at providing in-situ data towards management of the Great Artesian Basin, renewal of the Water Sharing Plan and scientifically informing future infrastructure and water management strategies of the NSW GAB.
Over 8,500 bores have been drilled in the NSW-GAB since 1879. More than 1,300 were flowing uncontrolled into open bore drains. About 400 bores ceased to flow at some stage due to general pressure decline.
Implementation of the NSW Cap & Pipe Programs resulted in pressure increases in the last decade, of up to 10m in some areas, potentially causing several bores to start to flow again. Some of the bores are very old and have the potential to fail.
The GAB Bore Survey Project was initiated to provide evidence based information to prioritise future GAB infrastructure and water management strategies that includes the current and predicted renewed flowing bores.
The project objectives are to identify number of bores under artesian condition; assign bore integrity risks; measure/estimate total extractions/discharge; quantify uncontrolled discharges/leakages; Estimate current and future BLR requirements; and to assess water quality status of GAB.
In 2018, 220 bores were visited. In 2019, the NSW government extended the survey. The 2019 survey aims at 600 bores.
Each bore survey included landholder interviews, bore headworks inspection, gas emissions, water distribution infrastructure, geo-tagged photos, electronic logging of pressure, flow and water levels, and water quality sampling.
Individualised bore integrity status reports together with water quality analyses were sent to all participating landholders.
The outcome of the 2018 survey fed into a pressure recovery assessment. Upon completion, the full dataset will inform the scoping of the GABSI funding, inform aquifer geochemistry, total extractions/discharge, uncontrolled discharges/leakages and BLR requirements.