YDNEY (Reuters) - An ancient underground water basin the size of Libya holds the key to Australia avoiding a water crisis as climate change bites the drought-hit nation.
Australia's Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest artesian groundwater basins in the world, covering 1.7 million sq kms (656,370 sq miles) and lying beneath one-fifth of Australia.
The basin holds 65 million gigaliters of water, about 820 times the amount of surface water in Australia, and enough to cover the Earth's land mass under half a meter of water, says the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee.
And it is slowly topped up with 1 million megaliters a year as rain filters through porous sandstone rock, becoming trapped in the underground basin.
Mining interests have already tapped into it throw its natural artesian well off balance.