The predicted drawdown on 574 water bores relied on by Queensland farmers as a result of coal seam gas drilling will have a disastrous impact on the state’s agricultural sector, community wellbeing, and the environment, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
The estimated number of water bores to be impacted in the coming years is contained in the latest draft Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment’s (OGIA) Underground Water Impacts Report for the Surat Basin.
The report also found 60,000 megalitres of groundwater was being extracted by the CSG industry each year in the Surat Basin.
Lock the Gate Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said at least 101 bores had been identified that would be impacted in the next three years, with that number expected to dramatically increase if the CSG industry expanded as planned.
“Since the last OGIA report in 2016, the existing and planned CSG production area on the Western Downs has increased by 17 per cent, with a total of about 21,000 CSG wells now projected,” she said.
“This will drain a staggering 574 bores post 2021, and condemn many farmers to water insecurity in a region already plagued by the crippling impacts of drought.
“This will have a devastating flow on effect to the economies of the Western Downs that have historically relied on agriculture - we know that for every 10 people employed in the gas industry, we lose 18 from agriculture.”
Ms Smith said reports there were still at least 30 outstanding ‘make good arrangements’ for drained bores was deeply concerning.
“The CSG industry treats Queensland farmers with contempt,” she said.
“This invasive and divisive industry is having an irreparable impact on a region that is home to some of Queensland’s most fertile farming country.”
Lock the Gate Alliance will be making a submission in response to the OGIA report in the coming days, and is encouraging impacted landholders to do likewise before the submission period ends on July 8.