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. GABSI was delivered in partnership by the Australian, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian 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
  • 21,390 km of bore drains being decommissioned
  • 31,552 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 2017 SA (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources file records) 30 June 2017 Qld (Qld GABSI 3 Final Report) 30 June 2016 Phase 1 Totals
Bores controlled111 11151 273
Bore drains deleted (kms)3,4093244,774 8,507
Piping installed6,2853245,144 11,753
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)26,09338,31653,516 117,925
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)12.3351.74714.304 28.386

*Phase 2 projects

  NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017 SA (from Department of the Environment records) 30 June2017 Qld (Qld GABSI 3 Final Report) 30 June 2016 Phase 2 Totals
Bores controlled117490 211
Bore drains deleted (kms)3,03604,213 7,249
Piping installed5,25605,919 11,175
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)25,07574240,659 66,476
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)15.5950.222.736 38.531

*Phase 3 projects

  NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017 SA (from Department of the Environment records) 30 June2017 Qld (Qld GABSI 3 Final Report) 30 June 2016 Phase 3 Totals
Bores controlled7428123 225
Bore drains deleted (kms)2,051173,227 5,295
Piping installed3,451204,748 8,219
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)15,9915,62435,912 57,527
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)18.0112.92723.706 44.644

*Phase 4 projects

  NSW (NSW GABSI 4 Final Report) 30 June 2017 SA (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 controlled9833 50
Bore drains deleted (kms)621276.9 339.9
Piping installed710328.9 399.9
Est annual water saving (Ml/annum)1,6714,2795,332.5 11,282.5
Aust Gov contributions ($ mil)2.786.6253.996 13.401

*Totals for all of GABSI – as at 30 June 2018






State total GABSI funding ($mil)





State annual water saving (Ml/annum)





State bores controlled





State bore drains deleted





State piping installed (kms)





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​​
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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