Healthy living

Bore water

What is bore water?

Bore water is water that has been drawn from a body of underground water, either through a deep pipe or a shallow hole. Generally, the term bore water refers to water that is not from a licensed water provider, such as a domestic (garden) bores.

Bore water may be contaminated by micro-organisms and chemicals, so it should not be used for drinking, or for baths or showers.

Where does bore water come from?

Water from rain and rivers seeps into the ground into the underground layers of  soil and rock. Eventually it will reach a layer of clay or rock that it cannot pass through, and it will collect in what is called an aquifer. Underground aquifers can form at different depths and in different areas.

A cross section showing unconfined aquifer at surface level, followed by a layer of clay, followed by a confined aquifer, followed by rock.

Water collects in different types of underground aquifers

Just like rivers, water in an aquifer can flow in a particular direction and as it moves through the ground it can dissolve minerals or chemicals and transport pesticides and micro-organisms.

It is possible that water drawn from different depths of the same aquifer will have different chemical and microbiological properties. The same applies for water drawn from different aquifers that may be at the same depth.

As the water in an aquifer is constantly moving it is also possible for the chemical and microbiological quality to change over time.

Is bore water protected from contamination?

Bores operated by licensed water providers, such as the Water Corporation (external site), that are used for drinking water are protected from contamination as they are:

  • located within aquifers (mostly at depth)
  • located in areas with restricted development and land usage
  • controlled by catchment management plans.

Most domestic bores draw water from shallow unconfined aquifers that are neither located in areas where development is controlled nor protected from surface contamination.

More information


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