The draft underground water impact report (UWIR) for the Surat cumulative management area was released on Thursday by the Queensland Water Commission (QWC) for public consultation.
The draft report seeks to identify likely future impacts on landholder bores from petroleum and CSG activities as well as providing appropriate strategies for managing these impacts. The report found that 2.5 percent or 528 of the 21,000 private bores across Queensland’s south east will be adversely affected by the CSG industry.
Whilst Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and industry members say the report shows the industry would not have as big an impact on the environment as anti-CSG protesters make out, the farmers and communities whose livelihoods are dependent upon their ability to utilise their ground water share a different opinion.
Ag Force General President Brent Finaly believes that “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”.
Innes Larkin from Lock the Gate states that the report does little to reassure them that the industry is safe.
“All impacts on water are important and this report is only touching on draw downs it has nothing to do with contamination another whole huge raft of questions that still hasn’t been answered on that.”
This report is the first independent assessment of CSG activity and its impact on underground water. Further research is still needed to assess the potential impacts of the industry on water quality and our environment.
The release of the UWIR coincides with a study published late last month which focused on the possibility of groundwater contamination due to the use of fracking chemicals in the CSG process. The study, which was published in the journal Ground Water, raises fresh concerns over the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and concluded that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted.
It is clear that further research is needed to understand and mitigate the potentially negative impacts this industry can have on the environment and the Australian people.