WHAT’S TO COME 101 bores to be af­fected in next three years

The Western Star - - Front Page - Jorja McDonnell

WA­TER sup­plies across the Mara­noa will face de­ple­tion in the com­ing years, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est study of ground­wa­ter im­pact, and gas com­pa­nies will be foot­ing the bill to make it up to land­hold­ers.

VI­TAL wa­ter sup­plies in the Mara­noa could face de­ple­tion in the com­ing years as bores in the Su­rat Basin feel the ef­fects of coal seam gas pro­duc­tion.

The lat­est in­de­pen­dent re­port from the Of­fice of Ground­wa­ter Im­pact As­sess­ment (OGIA) has identified 101 bores within the Su­rat Basin – pri­mar­ily in the Roma, In­june, Wan­doan, Miles and Chin­chilla ar­eas - which will ex­pe­ri­ence the im­pacts of CSG ac­tiv­ity in the next three years.

The in­de­pen­dent body pre­vi­ously as­sessed hun­dreds of bores in 2012 and 2016 also.

“Our pri­mary func­tion and role is to es­ti­mate CSG im­pact,” OGIA gen­eral man­ager San­jeev Pandey said. “The re­port pro­vides an up to date as­sess­ment on the im­pacts on ground­wa­ter from CSG de­vel­op­ment, and also pro­vides strate­gies for mit­i­gat­ing and man­ag­ing those im­pacts.”

“This is the sec­ond up­date as part of a three year cy­cle.”

From 2021 on­wards, the num­ber of im­pacted bores in the long-term is ex­pected to jump to 574, as wa­ter ex­trac­tion for gas pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues.

The re­search also shows all 101 bores af­fected in the short term will be sub­ject to make-good agree­ments, where gas com­pa­nies are ob­li­gated to make up for the dam­age done. Ru­ral ad­vo­cates, AgForce, has his­tor­i­cally en­sured lo­cals were com­pen­sated for im­pacted bore wa­ter sup­ply; and while it wel­comes the new re­port, it still has con­cerns for those al­ready af­fected. “AgForce has ad­vo­cated for land­hold­ers to be ad­vised by ex­pert hy­dro-ge­ol­o­gists and agron­o­mists at the CSG com­pa­nies’ cost,” AgForce Wa­ter Com­mit­tee Chair Kim Brem­ner said.

“The prob­lem, how­ever, is that we know from the 2016 re­port there are still 30 out­stand­ing make-good agree­ments yet to be con­cluded out of 123 identified bores.

“This short­fall in fi­nalised agree­ments in­di­cates fur­ther im­prove­ments are re­quired so that the sys­tem is timely, ef­fec­tive and fair.”

While OGIA is up­ping its wa­ter mon­i­tor­ing prac­tices in the re­gion this year, it also out­lined steps lo­cals can take to en­sure their wa­ter sup­ply re­mains.

“We have put to­gether a list of all the wa­ter sup­ply bores which will be im­pacted in the next three years, and ten­ure hold­ers have re­spon­si­bil­ity for them,” Mr Pad­ney said.

“They (the com­pa­nies) have to go out, talk to land­hold­ers, and do some in­ves­ti­ga­tions on that bore to es­tab­lish whether their im­pact would ef­fect wa­ter sup­ply from that bore.

“If that in­ves­ti­ga­tion tells that the wa­ter sup­ply would be af­fected, then ten­ure hold­ers have the statu­tory obli­ga­tion to reach into a make-good agree­ment with land­hold­ers or bore own­ers.

“It would be very smart of land­hold­ers who have been ap­proached by the CSG in­dus­try to see if their bore has been im­pacted, and I do en­cour­age them to use our Bore Search tool, which will tell them the im­pacts.

“It will even tell them if their bore is go­ing to be im­pacted in the next 40 to 50 years, which is very timely as more projects are com­menc­ing in the Su­rat Basin.”

Are you a land­holder who has had their bore wa­ter sup­ply af­fected by the CSG in­dus­try? Let us know at ed­i­to­rial @ west­ern­ or call us on 4578 4103.

The re­port pro­vides an up to date as­sess­ment on the im­pacts on ground­wa­ter from CSG de­vel­op­ment, and also pro­vides strate­gies for mit­i­gat­ing and man­ag­ing those im­pacts.

— OGIA gen­eral man­ager San­jeev Pandey


UN­DER PRES­SURE: Gas drilling in the Su­rat Basin is pre­dicted to neg­a­tively im­pact 101 wa­ter bores across the re­gion, trig­ger­ing make-good agree­ments be­tween land­hold­ers and CSG com­pa­nies.

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