Well maintained bores last longer

News article |

The SAAL NRM Board would like to remind water users in the SA Arid Lands region who have a bore under their care and control to undertake simple, routine maintenance to reduce risks to water supplies, prevent costly and inconvenient breakdowns, and to meet their legal obligations.

Posted 25 November 2015.

The region’s largest water resource is the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) which provides a vital supply of groundwater for the continued operation of our key industries (tourism, pastoral, mining, gas and petroleum) and to meet the needs of our communities and wildlife.

To safeguard the sustainability of the GAB and other groundwater aquifers the Far North Prescribed Wells Area Water Allocation Plan was adopted in 2009 after a planning process led by the Board under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.

The Water Allocation Plan provides for responsible, fair and equitable water allocations for all groundwater users and sets out the rules for managing the take and use of this prescribed water.

The Board funded the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources to undertake a bore audit in 2013-15.

The review of 289 artesian bores in the Far North Prescribed Wells Area was undertaken to establish a comprehensive picture of the condition of the artesian bores in South Australia.

It highlighted that maintenance needs to improve.

In recent decades, governments, industry and individuals have invested significantly in bore rehabilitation and installing piped reticulation systems to deliver GAB water efficiently. The GAB Sustainability Initiative has supported water users to install infrastructure – pipes, tanks and troughs –that are the responsibility of the water user to maintain, to protect the investment and to ensure wise water use.

Well maintained bores and efficient water use contribute to maintaining the pressure in the GAB.

Natural waterpoints (mound springs) rely on good pressure. Mound springs are central to the cultural beliefs and stories of many Aboriginal groups; played a pivotal role in the exploration and settlement of South Australia; and are home to many endemic plants and animals and refuges for native fauna.

So, if you have a bore under your care and control, what are your responsibilities?

It is in the interest of all water users to ensure pressure and flows are sustained to meet current and future industry, community and environmental needs.

If you are responsible for a bore (known as a ‘well’ in the Natural Resources Management Act 2004) you must ensure that it is properly maintained; this includes the casing, lining, and screen, and the mechanism (if any) to cap the bore.

Maintenance is particularly important for artesian bores, where groundwater is stored under pressure and there is more strain on the infrastructure.

Water licences issued under the Far North Prescribed Wells Area Water Allocation Plan, require licensees to reticulate water through closed, water-tight delivery systems. It is also a requirement of the licence that these reticulation systems are well maintained.

As infrastructure deteriorates with age, operation and site conditions, regular maintenance can extend the ‘working life’ of a bore and reduce the risk of breakdown.

Poor maintenance ofheadworks is often a precursor to valve, fittings and pipework failure and can in some cases lead to catastrophic failure.

The SAAL NRM Board is keen to work with bore owners in providing them with the ‘know how’ to maintain their bores. Timely, low cost maintenance will extend the ‘working life’of the bore – a clear financial incentive.

How can we help?

The SAAL NRM Board has reprinted the GAB Bore Maintenance Field Guide for Artesian Bores to give guidance on best practice maintenance of bores and associated pipelines.

Topics covered are well head maintenance and minor repair, pipeline maintenance and repair and common problems to look out for in your reticulation systems.

Those responsible for artesian bores in the Far North Prescribed Wells Area will soon receive a copy of this handbook and the GAB Well Condition Review Summary Report.

For any bore(s) under you care and control a report containing an assessment of the condition of the headworks and associated surface infrastructure, together with recommendations on maintenance will also be made available.

For further information on how to maintain the bores on your property, your rights and responsibilities, or to obtain extra copies of the handbook, please contact Natural Resources SA Arid Lands 8648 5300.

SAAL NRM Board, DEWNR, Australian Government

Article originally published in Across the Outback (November 2015)

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