Have you ever heard of the Queensland Water Commission? I hadn’t until recently. They’re quite an important player in the world of coal seam gas.
The QWC is a statutory authority established a few years ago under the Water Act to oversee the sustainable management of water resources in south east Queensland (and a few other areas around the state). More recently, the QWC has been appointed to manage the impacts of CSG water extraction on groundwater resources. In particular, the QWC is concerned with areas that might experience cumulative impacts as a result of multiple mining tenures. Rather than assessing each mining operation or location individually, the QWC takes a broader perspective and considers the impacts if multiple mines were to go ahead in the same area.
As you might imagine, cumulative impact assessments can be very complex and require consideration of a large number of hypothetical scenarios. I’m quite impressed that the government has had enough foresight to recognise the importance of cumulative impact assessments and put measures in place to try and manage potential impacts.
This week, the QWC announced that their CSG operations will be funded by the industry from next year. Investigations and monitoring by the QWC cost approximately $4 million per year and this cost will soon be borne by the mining operators, rather than the public purse. If you’d like more details on the levy, try this article or the pdf overview provided by QWC.