Draft Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan to keep the water flowing

NSW Great Artesian Basin advisory group chair and Federal Great Artesian Basin Consultative Council NSW representative Ranald Warby.
NSW Great Artesian Basin advisory group chair and Federal Great Artesian Basin Consultative Council NSW representative Ranald Warby.

Members of the community had their chance to take a look at the future management plans of the Great Artesian Basin on Tuesday at a community consultation.

Moree Plains Shire councillors, landholders and Aboriginal Land Council representatives showed at the Moree Services Club to size up the Draft Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan 2018.

Department of Industry-Water’s Adam Smith it was important to garner feedback from all corners of the community.

“This plan has broad community interest and the springs do have cultural significance to the Aboriginal community,” he said.

The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground, freshwater resources in the world. It provides crucial water to properties in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

“The further out west you go from Moree, the more dependent farmers are on the bores. There are even towns that rely on the bores for its water supply,” NSW Great Artesian Basin Advisory Group chairman Ranald Warby said.

The draft plan put forward on the day gives a framework for governments, water users and other interested parties to follow, to ensure the sustainability of the Basin.

“The Federal Strategic Management Plan needs to have the same endpoint as our state plan, to save the pressure in the basin,” Mr Warby said.

He flagged the pressure in the Basin as a pressing issue.

“To keep the pressure in the basin you have to cap and pipe more bores,” he said.

The high pressure in the Basin allows water to naturally come to the surface. Water that is vital for farmers who run cattle properties and the like.

“A lot of bores don’t flow because there is a lack of pressure [in the Basin],” Mr Warby said.

“And the reason why there is a lower pressure is because there is less water in the basin.”

With the capping and piping already achieved, Mr Warby pointed out that uncapped bores had a greater water flow due to the increase in pressure, but came with an increase in water wastage.

Department of Industry-Water water planning director Vanessa O'Keefe spoke on the day.

Department of Industry-Water water planning director Vanessa O'Keefe spoke on the day.

Mr Warby owns a livestock property and relies on the water and high pressure in the Basin to keep his farm afloat, even more so in times of drought.

“I would’ve had to sell a lot of my sheep if I didn’t have piped water from the Basin. When a bore is piped and capped, the farmer doesn’t have to rely on rain. On that score, the properties are drought-proof.”

For that reason, the livestock farmer would like to see more bores capped and piped.

“We need to maintain the pressure in the Basin for future generations,” he said.

Mr Warby listed the consultation as a success.

Another consultation will happen at Walgett at 10am at the local RSL club on Wednesday and Bourke at 10am on Thursday.

“The state and federal governments must manage the basin plan in consultation with landholders and other groups involved in the Basin,” he said.