The Queensland Government has announced an investment of up to $32 million over four years to enhance the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) Water Security Project. 

The funding has been set aside for ongoing capping and piping activities, aimed at safeguarding the critical water resource.

The Great Artesian Basin supports about 80 communities in outback Queensland, providing water for agriculture, industry, and the environment. 

It also sustains close to 300 natural spring ecosystems, many of which harbour rare and endangered species.

Recently, the Queensland Government banned carbon capture and storage (CCS) in its section of the Great Artesian Basin. 

Many consider the storage of carbon in the underground formation to be too risky for the vital ecosystem. 

THe government says that since the inception of the GAB improvement initiatives, over 226,000 megalitres of water have been reclaimed annually for the basin. 

The project has thus far saved about 3,000 megalitres of water by capping eight bores and converting 137 kilometres of open bore drains into controlled watering systems. 

The new funding aims to return an additional 2,182 megalitres of water to the basin, moving closer to the objective of achieving a watertight basin by 2032.

“The Great Artesian Basin is just too important to Queensland to mess with, that’s why we have banned CCS in the Great Artesian Basin and it’s why we are continuing to protect one of the greatest natural assets in the world,” Premier Steven Miles says. 

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, says he is proud of the government's decision to permanently ban carbon capture and storage in the GAB, while also stressing the collaborative nature of the capping and piping program. 

“Our work doesn’t stop there – our capping and piping work brings together graziers, environmentalists and regional Councils – who all understand the importance of this vital water resource,” Butcher said.

Economist Professor Ross Garnaut described the bore-capping scheme as a significant achievement in environmental management and commended the Queensland Government for its efforts to involve the Commonwealth Government in advancing the project. 

He says the scheme is “one of Australia’s important success stories”.