BSA asks CSG industry to put its water where its mouth is

Local landholders are shocked that Origin Energy is taking water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) to use in the Darling Downs Power Station, rather than accessing water that it already draws out from underground as part of the gas extraction process.

In a public notice in the Dalby Herald this week, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines informed of its intention to grant a new a 100 megalitre entitlement of groundwater from the Hutton Sandstone aquifer in the Great Artesian Basin to Origin Energy Power Limited for industrial use.

Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) Basin Chairman David Hamilton said he was gravely concerned about the proposal because it contradicted government policy.

“Government and the coal seam gas (CSG) industry have been openly promoting that they will be utilising the co-produced water as a water resource, but instead we see most of this water sitting in evaporation ponds and holding dams.

“When we are experiencing the most widespread drought in Queensland’s history, and there is a moratorium on all further allocations out of GAB for the sustainability of the resource, we’d prefer to see the CSG companies using the water they have already drawn out rather than ‘double-dipping’ from our precious groundwater reserves.”

BSA understands that it was considered unfeasible for Origin to treat, and pipe or truck water from its closest producing field which is 70km away.

“We do appreciate that it may not be the best solution to rip through our countryside with another pipeline, but there are other gas fields operated by other CSG companies close to the power station.  We are concerned that the CSG companies don’t appear to be working together to come up with the best solutions for the use of water.”

Mr Hamilton said the challenges associated with treating, piping and/or trucking co-produced water raised warning signs for landholders who were hoping to access such water as part of their “make good” agreements.

Under “make good” arrangements, landholders can request companies to provide ‘make up’ water for groundwater water that is lost due to draw-down as a result of coal seam gas activity.

“If the CSG companies are already saying that it’s too difficult to pipe in or truck in water for their own use, then where does this leave the average landholder who was pinning his or her hopes on getting this water to continue their farming operations?

“We fear that people will be forced to take money instead of water which could have a long term effect on our ability to sustain agricultural production.”

BSA is urging landholders to put in a submission highlighting their concerns about this allocation before 22 April.  For more information on the application and how to make a submission contact the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in Toowoomba on 4529 1394.