Protect Sydney's Drinking Water Catchment

Our drinking water, our rivers and even our World Heritage areas are threatened by longwall coal mining in the greater Sydney region.

The agency that manages Sydney’s drinking water catchment sees longwall coal mining as one of the biggest threats to our water supply.

NSW’s Chief Scientist said that our catchment is the only publicly owned drinking water catchment in the world where coal mining is allowed.

A 2016 poll found that 84% of people in NSW want farmland, water and environment protected from coal mining and CSG.

But the Government is still giving the tick to coal mining in Sydney’s water catchment.

It’s time that Premier Berejiklian declared Sydney's drinking water catchment a no-go zone for coal and coal seam gas mining.

The map of coal mines beneath Sydney’s water...


Surrounding our vital reservoirs, are the Special Areas, usually kept clean and untouched, to act as natural filtration systems - except for longwall coal mining.

These dams shown above provide 20% of Sydney’s water. Swamps and rivulets currently provide water even during dry times to these dams - until they’re cracked forever from below.

Flammable methane leaking through Nepean River due to riverbed cracks caused by nearby longwall coal mining.

Undermining Woronora Catchment
The once pristine waterway, Waratah Rivulet, in the Woronora Catchment Special Area which flows into Woronora Dam, was cracked and drained by mining in 2006.

Undermining Cataract Catchment
WaterNSW was scathing about Wollongong Coal’s Russell Vale expansion plan: “The estimated water loss of 7.3 million litres per day is unacceptable, particularly during dry periods.”

Undermining Cordeaux Catchment
Sept 2016 catchment inspection revealed newly cracked and drained creeks and dry wetlands. WaterNSW objected to a proposal lodged by Illawarra Coal, saying the risks to the Sydney water supply are “unacceptably high.” Recently, Professor Jim Galvin has warned of “potential permanent consequences for the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment Metropolitan Special Area.” A Department of Planning report has revealed that precious rainfall that should be feeding Sydney's dams and drinking water supply is being drawn into polluted mining voids underground.


Demand that Premier Berejiklian protect Sydney's drinking water catchments. 

NSW Premier, protect Sydney's Water

1,245 signatures

The World-Heritage Thirlmere Lakes, once famous for canoeing and swimming prior to the 1980s, have been ruined by coal mining, which began in the area in the early 80s.

Millions of litres of highly saline mine water containing nitrates, phosphates, zinc, nickel and other contaminants is discharged every day into the Coxs River, which flows into Sydney’s largest water supply, Warragamba Dam.

This controversial Korean-owned mine is located within the Warragamba Dam catchment and risks a pristine aquifer. POSCO concedes their mine will drawdown water from the aquifer by up to 90 metres and affect an area of over 300 square kms. In July 2017 WaterNSW warned that the proposed development “may significantly reduce the quantity of water in the Sydney water catchment area.” A study by The Australia Institute found that the project overall, will have “no economic value to the Southern Highlands or NSW.”

Millions of litres of highly toxic water is escaping from this derelict coal mine into Sydney's drinking water catchment. In August 2017, Dr Ian Wright found that the “impact on the Wingecarribee River biodiversity down-stream of the [Berrima] mine is greater than has been observed in mine drainage from any other Australian coal mine and is very high on an international comparison." Mining ceased years ago but the mine still releases contaminated water into the Wingecarribee River as the mine has not been effectively sealed. Video


The hidden damage of longwall mining…

Most damage occurs below the surface, making it hard to measure, predict or prove loss of surface water.  Longwall coal mining strips out an entire coal seam and allows the ground to collapse behind the machinery - this is called “subsidence”.

Subsidence-induced impacts:

  • streambed cracking
  • loss of surface flows 
  • contamination of water
  • gas venting
  • swamp draining
  • surface fissures
  • cliff falls


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Content on this site is authorised by Georgina Woods for Lock the Gate Alliance, Lismore NSW.