great artesian basin
one of the largest areas of artesian water in the world, underlying about one-fifth of Australia. It includes most of the Darling and Lake Eyre catchments and extends northward to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Most of its approximately 670,000 square miles (1,735,000 square km) underlie Queensland, with smaller segments extending under New South Wales, South Australia, and Northern Territory. Its floor varies considerably in depth, with bores in Queensland averaging about 1,600 feet (500 metres). The daily free discharge of water, from more than 18,000 boreholes, averages 350,000,000 gallons (1,300,000,000 litres), much of which is lost through evaporation and seepage. Distribution for irrigation, stock, and domestic use is by open earth channels and plastic tubing. A major rehabilitation project in the basin, launched in 1989, has aimed at gradually improving the prospects of sustaining the aquifer.
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