The right advice for garden bores

Groundwater in your area

The Perth groundwater map is a simple tool to help you understand groundwater in your area and where garden bores are suitable.

To use the map, enter your property address into the map search function and then view the tabs for information such as:

  • estimated depth to the watertable and depth of the Superficial aquifer beneath your property
  • an indication of groundwater quality (salinity)
  • iron staining risk
  • acid sulphate soil risk
  • whether the area is suitable for garden bores.

Not all areas are suitable for garden bores as this will depend on the local hydrogeology such as the soil’s ability to store groundwater, risks to users such as poor or contaminated water quality and risks to the environment such as close proximity to high-value environmental features such as wetlands. Areas across Perth that are generally unsuitable for garden bores include:

  • the Cottesloe Peninsula because of high saltwater intrusion risks from the ocean and the river
  • suburbs around Secret Harbour and Port Kennedy because fresh groundwater is very limited
  • within 200 m of the ocean or the Swan River Estuary because of saltwater intrusion risks
  • areas in and around the Perth foothills as groundwater is patchy and bore yields are likely to be unproductive
  • near wetlands to minimise drawdown risks and environmental sensitivity
  • near contaminated sites where groundwater may be polluted
  • in areas where groundwater is over-allocated or stressed because it is collectively abstracted more than it is replenished by rainfall recharge.

For more information on groundwater in your area view our Water Information Reporting tool or send a query to the Water Information Reporting team at wir@dwer.wa.gov.au.

Are you worried about water quality?

Bore water quality can vary considerably and may change over time, even in a location with good water quality.

Although groundwater quality in the shallow aquifers across the Perth and Peel regions is generally good for irrigation type purposes, groundwater from your bore may contain contaminants, including heavy metals and bacteria that could make you very ill.

It is not safe to consume water from your garden bore. If you need to use groundwater for drinking or filling your pool, get advice from the Department of Health and check our advice note on private drinking water safety and advice note on safe use of bore water in rural areas.

Read more about safe bore water use, water quality, contamination and where to get your garden bore water professionally tested on the Department of Health’s Healthy WA website.

Are you worried about iron staining and odour when you use your garden bore?

Iron staining from garden bores is common in Perth. It is caused by natural dissolved iron in groundwater that reacts with air when brought to the surface and leaves a red rust coat on surfaces like pathways, roads, building and fences. These stains can be difficult to remove but can be prevented by correctly installing the right sprinklers to avoid overspray and run-off, such as drip-line sprinklers in your garden beds.

For information on iron staining risk in your local area see the Perth groundwater map.

The most common odour reported from garden bores is produced by the release of hydrogen sulphide resulting in a ‘rotten egg’ smell. Hydrogen sulphide occurs naturally in groundwater from the decomposition of underground organic material, such as peat. At low concentrations it is harmless and is generally not a problem. ‘Fruity’ or ‘kerosene’ odours are not natural and may indicate groundwater contamination.

For more information on the types, causes and treatments of odours please see our explanation notes in the Perth groundwater atlas 2004 and Contaminated groundwater – could my garden bore be affected?

Download pdfs
Water quality protection note 41: Private drinking water supplies Water quality information sheet 1: Safe use of bore water in rural areas Contaminated groundwater – could my garden bore be affected?

Accredited drillers and minimum garden bore construction requirements

We recommend that garden bores are constructed by an experienced and accredited driller that is licensed by the Australian Drilling Industry Association.

An accredited driller will ensure construction meets industry standards and is suitable for your needs. They will also provide you with a ‘bore log’ indicating bore depth, soil composition, yield and pump make and model, which can be invaluable records for you and any subsequent owner.

Garden bore construction should meet the Minimum Construction Requirements for Water Bores in Australia 4th Edition 2020 to ensure they are safe and effective.

Ensure your driller complies with the standard shown below. The diagram shows the minimum construction requirements specifically suited to garden bores accessing the watertable aquifer. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation prepared this diagram in conjunction with the Australian Drilling Industry Association.

The Australian Drilling Industry Association provides an accredited members search function at www.adia.com.au.

Download pdf Minimum construction requirements for water bores in Australia

Diagram of a bore using the minimum construction requirements specifically suited to garden bores accessing the watertable aquifer