Respected water expert, Tom Crothers yesterday urged State Parliament to protect the water rights of all Queenslanders and not just surrender to the wishes of the mining industry, when considering amendments to water legislation.
Mr Crothers, in a submission presented to parliament, argued for the removal of the proposed 'statutory underground water rights for miners' because it was unfair to groundwater-dependent rural communities and it was environmentally unsustainable.
The submission was written by Mr Crothers, who worked as the Queensland Government’s general manager of Water Planning and Allocation and Sarah Moles, Coordinator of the Western Rivers Alliance.
State Parliament’s Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee is currently considering changes to the Water Resources Amendment Bill 2015.
Mr Crothers and Ms Moles submission argues that changes should:
- ensure that the resources sector's underground water use is properly accounted for and is sustainable in the long-term;
- maintain the rights of adjoining landholders and the community to object to the provision of water licences to miners and to challenge licences in the Land Court
- provide a fair and equitable playing field in which the rights and entitlements of other underground water users are protected; and
- restore a water planning and management framework that is effective and transparent.
“There is an urgent need for cumulative regional groundwater models to be developed and used as part of the assessment of environmental impacts’ process and before any approvals for large mining projects are granted,” Mr Crothers said.
“Legislative changes are needed to mitigate against the unsustainable take of underground water by the mining and petroleum industries.”
He said the process of determining Make Good Arrangements was “unfair and denied landholders’ natural justice” in their dealings with the resources sector.
Mr Crothers called for the reinstatement of the previous water planning framework so that water planning instruments were both “effective and transparent” to Queensland’s water users and the general community.
The committee must report to State Parliament on March 1. Full submission available on request.