Revelations six billion litres of water has been diverted from creeks feeding Sydney water catchments into underground coal mines in the Special Areas show a moratorium on any new mines in the region must be immediately implemented, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
The amount of lost water was yesterday revealed in an interim report from the Independent Expert Panel for Mining in the Catchment examining damage to Sydney’s drinking water catchment by the Dendrobium and Metropolitan coal mines.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the NSW Government must now place a moratorium on any further approval of coal mines in the Special Areas of the catchment until the panel’s final report is delivered in August next year.
The report showed 6 billion litres of water over the last eight years has been diverted from creeks feeding Avon and Cordeaux catchments and has instead leaked into the Dendrobium coal mine. In addition, the Avon reservoir appears to be directly leaking into the mine.
Ms Woods said the need for a moratorium was particularly urgent, given the ongoing drought.
“The Upper Nepean and Woronora catchments, where Metropolitan and Dendrobium mines are located, provide about 24% of the water supply for Sydney Water. These catchments have been assessed to be in ‘intense drought’ and it is unacceptable for any more coal mining to be allowed in these areas to potentially worsen this water loss,” Ms Woods said.
“The water pouring in to the Dendrobium mine at a rate of 3 million litres each day is equivalent to 1.2% of the capacity of the desalination plant that may soon be switched on.
“The Expert Panel clearly finds that we have too little knowledge of the catchment to be confident in the scale of long-term damage mining has done and will do in the Special Areas.
“And yet, there are new and expanded mining proposals in these areas being considered by the Department of Planning.
“Any waste of water in the catchment of a growing city is reckless and unacceptable. We call on the Premier to impose a moratorium on any further coal mining approvals in the Special Areas while we await the final report of the Expert Panel next year.”
The Panel report is available here: http://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/reports/independent-expert-panel-for-mining-in-the-catchment