At least three percent of bores across the Surat Basin will be devastated by the burgeoning Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry despite assurances from the previous State Government and resource companies underground water will not be affected, Queensland landholder representative group AgForce said today.
The draft Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) released by the Queensland Water Commission (QWC) today is the first ever independent assessment of CSG activity and its impact on underground water.
The report shows that at least 528 of the 21,000 registered bores in the studied area will experience such water loss that legal provisions for ‘make good’ compensation will be triggered under petroleum and gas legislation. The modelling also shows the possibility some bores will suffer a drop of more than 500m.
“For many of these producers who may now be simply offered a cheque to ‘make good’ this loss it will be little compensation for the fact that this once fertile farmland may lie unproductive and their family’s future farming livelihoods will be lost for generations,” said AgForce General President Brent Finlay.
“Not only will this water loss affect primary producers but it will also put at risk the vibrant flora and fauna communities of this region.”
Mr Finlay said the report is particularly alarming given the Surat Basin is one of the state and nation’s key agricultural and pastoral production areas and is highly reliant on underground water for irrigation and for stock and domestic water. Furthermore, with the growing footprint of the CSG industry the issues raised in the report have the capacity to be replicated across the entire State.
“For years now Queensland producers have been concerned at the rate of CSG development and lack of independent science but have been repeatedly told that there would be no long term effects on their water.” Mr Finlay said.
“Sadly, whilst today’s report vindicates these concerns there is no cause for celebration,” Mr Finlay said.
“The report shows that without the mitigation measures such as reinjection that CSG companies are claiming are too expensive, the future of many farms that rely on groundwater are in jeopardy.”
This report highlights the need for ongoing work by QWC into this issue as well as expanding the Commission terms of reference to include other concerns such as water quality. AgForce, along with landholders and the general public, keenly anticipates the response from the new LNP Government on this critical issue. AgForce urges the Government not to put the interests of an industry that is forecast to last little more than two generations ahead of the future security of food production in this state.