A clearer vision for the Great Artesian Basin

27 July 2020

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment – and partners in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory – welcomed today’s release of the latest Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan.

This Plan brings in new technical knowledge, better sustainable water resource management practices, and changing social and political contexts to build on the success of the first Strategic Management Plan of 2000.

There is also a focus on aligning Basin management more closely with nationally agreed strategies and frameworks, including the National Water Initiative.

The Great Artesian Basin is an indispensable national asset that we must manage carefully and cooperatively.

Everything from mining and pastoral concerns to traditional Aboriginal practices and natural ecosystems rely on this water resource.

This new Plan reflects extensive public consultation and collaboration across jurisdictions to sustain all these needs.

Our planning ensures the Basin’s economies and communities succeed and its distinct environmental, cultural and heritage values are enhanced into the future.

With this approach, there can be greater certainty for farmers, traditional owners, businesses and communities who rely on the Basin.

The department acknowledges the work of the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee in providing strategic advice to governments about the management of water within the Basin over several years.

A new Great Artesian Basin Stakeholder Advisory Committee will be established this year to advise on whole-of-Basin policies and initiatives. We will be seeking expressions of interest for this Committee soon.

The Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan is available on the department’s website.

Fast Facts:

  • The new Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan is a framework for governments, communities and industry to manage and use the water resources of the Great Artesian Basin in a collaborative and judicious way. It was developed cooperatively with water users and other stakeholders.
  • This Plan takes an adaptive, shared and evidence-based approach to policy making for the Basin. It addresses the needs of communities and the environment and it reflects the principles of the National Water Initiative.
  • The health of the Great Artesian Basin requires management of water quality, water pressure, hydrogeological processes, and the ecological health of groundwater-dependent ecosystems.
  • Basin governments and community and industry representatives have agreed to seven guiding principles for managing the Great Artesian Basin, to achieve economic, environmental, cultural and social outcomes. These principles cover:
    • coordinated governance;
    • a healthy resource;
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, cultural heritage and other community values;
    • secure and managed access;
    • judicious use of groundwater;
    • information, knowledge and understanding for management; and
    • communication and education.
  • Around 22 per cent of Australia’s landmass sits atop the Great Artesian Basin. This Basin is a critical water resource for much of inland Australia’s stock, domestic, industrial and mining purposes. It supports about $12.8 billion of economic production each year.