Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Science provides a new understanding of Great Artesian Basin

Media release
27 March 2013

Management of the Great Artesian Basin will benefit from an increased understanding of how this nationally-important water resource functions.

Today Amanda Rishworth, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, released the Great Artesian Basin Water Resource Assessment (the Assessment) and the Allocating Water and Maintaining Springs in the Great Artesian Basin research project (the GAB Mound Springs project).

Federal Water Minister, Tony Burke, welcomed the release of the reports.

“The Great Artesian Basin is a resource of national importance that we need to understand in order to manage sustainably. These projects provide a robust assessment of the extent and nature of the water resources of the Great Artesian Basin and of the operation of its artesian springs,” Mr Burke said.

“Since 1980 the Great Artesian Basin has generally been thought of as a large, connected groundwater flow system. We now know that the structure of the Basin is far more complex.

“It can take many thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years for water to travel from its recharge areas in Queensland to discharge areas such as the mound springs in South Australia. The value of this assessment is that we now more fully understand how complex these flow paths are and we can use that knowledge to better manage these resources,’’ Mr Burke said.

The advanced understanding gained by the Assessment reveals the Great Artesian Basin to be an extensive and complex groundwater system heavily influenced by geological features including faults, ridges and connections with other geologic basins. These features all interact to influence actual groundwater and flow conditions.

The GAB Mound Springs project investigated surface and groundwater interactions and mound spring characteristics in the western area of the Great Artesian Basin.

“Together with the GAB Mound Springs project, the results of the Assessment will guide decision making by governments, industry and the community and inform the development of future water policy. It is good science informing good management,” Ms Rishworth said.

The two and a half-year Assessment was completed by Australia’s leading research organisation the CSIRO, in collaboration with Geoscience Australia.

The four-year Mound Springs project, funded by the National Water Commission and the South Australian Government, pulled together a number of project partners including: the South Australian Arid Lands NRM Board, Flinders University, Adelaide University, CSIRO, and the Northern Territory Government.

For more information about the Great Artesian Basin Water Resource Assessment, visit www.csiro.au/en/Organisation-Structure/Flagships/Water-for-a-Healthy-Country-Flagship/Sustainable-Yields-Projects/Great-Artesian-Basin-Assessment.aspx 

For more information about the Allocating Water and Maintaining Springs in the Great Artesian Basin research projects, visit http://archive.nwc.gov.au/library/topic/groundwater