Sydney’s drinking water at risk: Lock the Gate urges catchment coal mining moratorium

Published: August 21, 2017

Lock the Gate Alliance says revelations that coal mining is reducing water availability in Sydney’s drinking water catchment must trigger urgent action from the NSW Government to declare a moratorium on any further mining in the Special Areas of the catchment and review all current mining approvals.

The long-awaited audit of Sydney’s drinking water catchment was tabled in parliament two weeks ago, but its findings have only been brought to light today. The “Special Areas” are parts of the catchment supposed to be kept in a pristine state to protect the city’s drinking water: they are off-limits to the general public.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said, "We have long feared that there would be a cumulative impact on water flowing into Sydney’s dams from the extensive coal mining under the catchment that is cracking creeks and drawing precious water into longwall cavities."

The 2016 Catchment Audit, tabled in parliament on 8 August, warns that, "The cumulative, and possibly accelerated, impact of mining on flow regimes in the Catchment is likely linked to the increased prevalence of the current longwall methods of underground mining."

"It’s simply astounding that the Government would be given a report that warns of a possibly accelerated loss of Sydney’s drinking water as a result of these coal mines and take no action. Urgent action is needed before we do damage to Sydney’s water supply that could last for centuries.

"There are new proposals to further extend longwall coal mining under consideration, including expanding Dendrobium mine and the high risk Russell Vale mine and these must be stopped immediately. Discharge of saline polluted mine-water into the creeks that feed Sydney’s dams must also be stopped. Enough is enough.

"The NSW Coalition is failing to uphold the election promise it made prior to coming to Government six years ago to protect drinking water catchments from coal mining.

"There is no more time to dither: we need a moratorium on any further mining in Sydney’s Special Areas and a review of all current operations."

The Catchment Audit has been uploaded online here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByxFWzVKcs8IR1d4M3h6U3IzSk0

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