The Senate Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee has recently broadened its inquiry into the management of the Murray Darling Basin to examine the impacts of coal seam gas extraction on the management of the basin.
Existing development plans indicate that the Coal Seam Gas industry could extract up to 350,000 megalitres of ground water per year in the northern Murray Darling Basin, equivalent to the volume of two-thirds of Sydney Harbour.
Despite the significant annual volumes of groundwater that CSG mining will extract, the initial guide to the Murray Darling Basin Plan contained no reference to CSG water.
After submissions from rural lobby groups to the inquiry, the scope of the Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee has been broadened and will now examine the economic, social and environmental impacts of coal seam gas mining on:
• the sustainability of water aquifers and future water licensing arrangements;
• the property rights and values of landholders;
• the sustainability of prime agricultural land and Australia’s food task;
• the social and economic benefits or otherwise for regional towns and the effective management of relationships between mining and other interests; and
• other related matters including health impacts.
Submissions are open until Thursday, 30 June 2011.