Revealed: WaterNSW says loss of drinking water from coal mine "unacceptable"

Published: February 16, 2016

It's been revealed that WaterNSW has described the loss of Sydney drinking water from the Russell Vale coal mine expansion as ‘unacceptable,’ and predicted it will cause the loss of 7.3 million litres of water per day and cost NSW taxpayers $22.1 million per year.

The authority raised the concerns in a December 2015 letter to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission about Wollongong Coal’s plans to expand the controversial Russell Vale coal mine underneath the Cataract Reservoir Notification Area, a ‘Special Area’ described as an “essential part of Sydney's drinking water supply system”.

WaterNSW told the Commission that predicted water loss of up to “7.3ML/day is unacceptable to WaterNSW, particularly during dry periods”. It costed the predicted loss of Sydney drinking water at $22.1 million, a figure which it describes in an understated way as “not significantly different” to the projected royalties expected if the project goes ahead, of up to $23 million.

“What WaterNSW is telling us, is that when the NSW community pays the $22.1 million bill for the negative impacts of this mining project on drinking water supplies, they’ll be left with close to nothing from the royalties paid by the miner,” said Lock the Gate spokesperson Nic Clyde.

“Why should taxpayers sacrifice hard earned dollars and clean drinking water for an industry which a majority of our community says should not be operating in our water catchment Special Areas?” he asked.

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