Home' Smart Farmer : August 2014 Contents Smart management
out of their depth
By MAX OPRAY
AFTER 42 years of drilling
bores, Michael Ferraro has
one thing to say to people
on the hunt for underground water:
trust in local knowledge.
The owner of Olympic Boring has
worked throughout the Virginia,
Adelaide Hills and Barossa regions
and he says each area offers unique
challenges and requires specific
equipment, skill sets and licensing.
His main focus is the Northern
Adelaide Plains, an area he says is
particularly difficult, evidenced by
the fact that Class 2 licences are
required for people to drill there --
as opposed to Class 1 licences for
In SA, anyone drilling beyond 1.5
metres requires a licence from the
Department of Environment, Water
and Natural Resources.
Mr Ferraro says water bores need
to be at least 20 metres to 30m
deep and frequently extend 100m
deep and beyond. But licences are
effectively required for all bores.
In the NAP region, most of
Mr Ferraro's work is for market
"It depends what you are used to
drilling: there are rock drillers in
the Hills who don't come down to
the Plains because of the problems
they have here," he said.
"You need to be set up for drilling
through sand, gravel, clays, mud --
it can be a nightmare if you aren't
The region also requires pres-
sure cementing work, which
involves forcing cement down
the bore to seal the aquifers from
On the plus side, just about
anywhere bores are drilled in the
NAP area hit water because of the
expansive aquifers in the region.
Mr Ferraro also does work in the
Barossa for vineyard operations,
where he says water is found at
shallower depths in gravels and
In the Adelaide Hills, where Mr
Ferraro works for smallscale pasto-
ralists and hobby farmers, drilling
needs to be more targeted.
He says bore water there is only
found through drilling into frac-
tured rock, a process that requires
precision and equipment special-
ised for hard terrain.
To find an appropriate bore site,
Mr Ferraro says landholders can
either consult a local drilling con-
tractor with knowledge of the area
or go online to check the DEWNR
records for themselves.
When a fault line has been
located on an angled rock slope,
Mr Ferraro drills into the side
where it is sloping downwards.
"If it slopes towards the south,
we drill on the southern side: water
is shallower on the side a fault is
facing," he said.
But Mr Ferraro said divining rods
should not be used -- or trusted -- as
a device to find water.
"I'm not going to rubbish them
because they (diviners) believe in
what they are doing, but we've
proved diviners wrong so many
times it's not funny," he said.
"Once we had a diviner stake his
life that water was in a particular
spot and we've gone 400m down,
and they've said 'you have to go
It was not just recommending the
wrong spots that caused problems,
but the tendency of diviners to rule
out the right places to drill.
When he bought his property
at One Tree Hill, Mr Ferraro says
the existing bore site was more
than 400m from the closest power
"I went to drill a new bore next
To find an appropriate bore site, landholders can either consult a local drilling
contractor with knowledge of the area or go online to check the DEWNR
records for themselves.
Government licences required
Choose sites near power
Doubts about divining rods
to the house, 50m from power,"
"A diviner swore black and blue
we wouldn't find water there but I
gave it a go and there it was."
The issue of distance from power
is one of the foremost concerns of
any potential bore site, Mr Ferraro
"Drill bores as close as you can to
power, because one of the biggest
expenses is getting power to your
bore site," he said.
"Imagine the expense of trench-
ing and running power 200-300m
from a source of electricity.
"You want to be as close as is
practical to power, even if it means
you have your bore site away from
where you need water: it is cheaper
to run PVC pipes from your water
to where you need it than running
power to your bore site."
Another thing to consider is how
much water is needed, as many
areas require bore water usage to
be metered, with fines applied by
DEWNR when limits are breached.
Different properties have different
usage limits, so it is best to check
with the department before pro-
ceeding with a drilling operation.
DEWNR monitors bore usage
to ensure water resources aren't
exploited in an unsustainable
Usage of existing bores is obvi-
ously a good way to avoid the
expenses of drilling a new site,
but Mr Ferraro warns there can be
issues with water quality.
"Lately we've been doing a lot of
replacements of steel casing bores
in the Hills, backfilling them and
putting in PVC bores in their place.
"The steel casing bores corrode
over time, affecting water quality.
"That could pose a problem not
just for the bore site but also the
water of adjacent properties via
webs of underground channels."
• Need to know more?
Log onto the DEWNR website http://
the Olympic Boring website http://www.
14 Adelaide Rd, Victor Harbor • Ph: 8552 3601
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