Groundwater monitoring program welcomed

August 19th, 2014

There’s one set of drilling equipment that anti-industry activists presumably won’t be locking the gate to in New South Wales, with news today that the State Government will undertake a $7.4 million groundwater monitoring program in areas targeted for coal seam gas exploration and development.

Under phase 1 of the program, 10 boreholes will be drilled at five sites, while the second phase will see an additional 12 monitoring bores drilled at six sites.

The monitoring program will take in the Clarence Moreton basin on the far North Coast, the Gloucester valley in the Hunter and the Gunnedah basin in the State’s north west, with real-time data from bores across these basins to provide what Water Minister Kevin Humphries describes as ‘an early warning system’ for potential threats to water supplies.

This is a sensible move from the Government at a time when opposition to gas exploration and development is refocussing, and should go some way to addressing some of the concerns raised by landowners, regional communities and environmentalists in relation to potential impacts on groundwater.

Groundwater issues have long been cited as a reason for the industry to not proceed – but, like so many other issues relating to the unconventional gas industry, there’s a lot of claim and counterclaim.

So, it’s appropriate that monitoring be increased.

There’s more detail on the NSW Office of Water website about the monitoring program

A detailed technical report, prepared for the NSW Chief Scientist as part of the background paper series commissioned to support the review of the Coal Seam Gas industry is recommended reading.

The announcement of this increased monitoring program is a welcome step – after all, it’s fact-based, evidence-led information that will inform the discussion about the responsible development of natural resources.

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