The Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the announcement of a new groundwater research program in parts of the state targeted by coal seam gas miners, but says the missing part of the government’s approach is clear exclusion zones that protect productive groundwater sources and drinking water catchments.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, "Expanding our knowledge of groundwater is crucial, and the capacity to respond to an 'early warning system' will be some comfort. Proper mapping and modelling of our groundwater resources which are so precious to regional and farming communities was recommended by the Chief Scientist, so while this is a long time coming, it's welcome."
"However, monitoring is only one side of the coin when it comes to water and mining policy and regulation – the other side is protection, and that’s what we're still not seeing from the Government. There are water resources that are so important to the state that they warrant declaration as a no-go area for mining, which has been shown to draw down groundwater and pollute surface water.
"Even the Sydney drinking water catchment is not off-limits, with extensive coal mining occurring there right now and the possibility of extensive coal seam gas mining in the future.
"There is also coal seam gas production proposed in the Pilliga, over a recharge aquifer for the Great Artesian Basin, which is the lifeblood of western New South Wales.
"In the Hunter Valley, productive aquifers that have supported our dairy industry for over one hundred years are being drawn down by open cut mining, and the precious alluvial groundwater of the Liverpool Plains is also under threat from proposed coal mines.
"To complement the monitoring and mapping announced today, drinking water catchments and important groundwater sources need clear exclusion zones for coal seam gas and for coal mining. Rather than continuing to dribble out bits and pieces of policy to better regulate mining and coal seam gas, it would be great to see the Government deliver a comprehensive policy approach that safeguards water resources for the long-term" she said.
Further comment: Georgina Woods 0438 405 932