More funding calls to prevent groundwater wastage in Queensland

Posted 1 March 2017

BoreQueensland rural lobby group AgForce has called on State and Federal Governments to continue funding the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI). 

Ongoing funding of the initiative, which is only budgeted to June 2017, will ensure the reduction of groundwater wastage across the basin, said AgForce Senior Policy Advisor Dr Dale Miller.

"GABSI is a very worthwhile and longstanding program that delivers wins for the environment, wins for primary producers and also wins for rural economies," he said.

The initiative involves the capping and piping of bores across the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), which covers about 20% of Australia, in order to preserve groundwater and reduce wastage through evaporation. 

It’s in the economic interest of the government to continue to fund the project, Miller said. 

"GAB water contributes about $13 billion to the Australian economy each year and about $3 billion of that comes from livestock within Queensland, so it is a vitally important resource," Miller said.

Long-term funds need to be invested in the project if significant benefits are going to be seen, Miller said. 

"The Queensland Government estimates that there are still about 185 bores requiring rehabilitation and about 5250km of associated bore drains,” he said. 

"That looks [to be] about seven years of work and probably in the order of $75 million."

Following an 18-month wait on funding for the fourth phase of GABSI, Miller said urgent funding commitments are necessary.

"That delay in Federal Government commitment was disastrous in terms of the significant loss of capping and piping staff, and project management, as well as the technical capability within the Queensland program," he said.

"We don't want to see a similar loss of momentum for the project again.”

The State Government is currently reviewing the GAB water plan, and the public is invited to attend information sessions scheduled throughout March.

Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said these sessions are an opportunity to find out how the proposed changes might affect individual landowners, or resources as a whole. 

“The feedback obtained through these sessions and via the public submissions is vital in forming this plan, which will provide the framework for the sustainable management of Queensland’s Great Artesian Basin and other regional aquifers,” said Lynham. 

Written submissions will be accepted through April 17. To learn more, click here