A draft report detailing the effects of coal seam gas production on underground water in the Surat Cumulative Management Area has been released and community submissions are being sought.
Released by the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment, this is the third Underground Water Impact Report since 2012, and provides for ongoing assessment and management of cumulative impacts from CSG development in the Surat and southern Bowen basins.
Since the last report in 2016, the existing and planned CSG production area has increased by 17 per cent, with a total of about 21,000 CSG wells now projected.
The report states that 574 bores are predicted to be impacted in the long term, an increase of about 10pc compared to 2016 predictions.
"In the next three years, 101 water bores are predicted to be impacted, for which responsible tenure holders are identified for follow-up make good arrangements," the report reads.
"Of the 127 bores identified as affected in previous UWIRs, as of March 2019, make good agreements have been concluded for 93 and 70 have been decommissioned."
AgForce has welcomed the updated scientific information which will assist landholders to understand likely impacts on their bores from current and planned CSG activity.
AgForce water committee chair Kim Bremner said the report highlights the critical role independent scientific evidence has in supporting decisions on resource projects, and in this case, the potential impacts on important agricultural water assets.
"We need to ensure that groundwater management delivers security, reliability and quality of water supplies to primary producers and other users," Mr Bremner said.
"Landholders should be able have confidence that their interests will be protected today and into the future.
"The best way to deliver that confidence is for independent scientific information and recommendations to be used, rigorous conditions applied, and for a robust monitoring and compliance program to be in place prior to works commencing."
OGIA general manager Sanjeev Pandey said the report takes into account changes in the industry's planned development, improvements in geological modelling, and new knowledge about groundwater flow.
"There are currently 6,800 gas wells, with 21,000 projected by 2050, and increases in impacts and monitoring go hand in hand," Mr Pandey said.
"The UWIR is about equipping industry, landholders and government with the information they need to make informed decisions about underground water management in the Surat."
The draft report notes that current water extraction for onshore gas production in the Surat and southern Bowen Basin is about 60,000 ML/year (which is treated and reused for agricultural purposes), while non-gas related extraction is around three times higher at 164,000 ML/year in the same area.
Public consultation of the draft report is due to take place in the coming weeks, and the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment is seeking submissions from tenure holders, bore owners and the public. Submissions close on July 1, 2019.
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