ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY INTHENEW PLAN
Submissions fortheformulation ofthenew Great Artesian Basin Water Resource Plan are due to close onNovember 20.
Interested persons should consider putting in a submission, as protection oftheGAB is paramount to all who live west of theranges.Thenew plan will replacetheexisting 2006 GAB water resource plan.Theexisting plan has served us reasonably well, however it never envisionedtherise and rise of coal seam gas-shale, gas tight, gas shale oil mining.
These new and emerging industries are important totheeconomy of this state, but let us take this opportunity to ensure therobust protection fortheGAB against accidental damage from mining is incorporated inthenew GAB water resource plan.
Unconventional gas fracking is a highly water-intensive process.Each shale gas frack can require between 9 million and 29 million litres of water – that’s for a single well.Each time a shale body is fractured – multiple times per well, usually – an additional 9-29 million litres of water can be required.To have an idea ofthescale of water required to developtheindustry, multiply that figure bythethousands of wells needed to extractthegas of just one deposit.Over allocation is one issue to be addressed inthenew plan.
Contamination oftheGAB can occur through a number of causes; unlined bore-holes are a major threat, as are catastrophic well failure during oil and gas production, longer-term well failures linked to corrosion of lined bore-holes, migration of polluted material through faults, or through surface water pollution migrating into aquifers.A well failure during critical points of production hasthepotential to do permanent, possibly irreversible damage to aquifers in our GAB.
Thestate government has said it will review its fracking conditions and regulations around groundwater as it pavestheway for an emerging industry in shale gas, shale oil, tight gas and basin-centred gas.
Thenew GAB water resource plan must protecttheGAB by stipulating that all wells – bores that interact withtheGAB are fully lined with approved casings, and that all wells attheend of their working life are properly rehabilitated by filling with concrete fromthebottom up to avoid inter-bed leakage over time.Thewater plan must also stipulate that full disclosure ofthenature of all chemicals that could or will interact withtheGAB be given totheappropriate authority.
Theapplication of good science and good engineering practice when dealing withtheGAB may or probably will increasethecost of oil and gas production said to be worth billions of dollars, but iftheindustry cannot afford some simple and effective environmental measures to protecttheGAB then it probably is not worth doing.
Remember,thebillions of dollars mining will bring will not be there forever, butthebillions of dollars agriculture brings along withthetowns and people will, but only if there is a healthy GAB.
TheParoo Shire and South West RED are willing to work with all other stakeholders like Agforce, South West NRM to ensure an equitable outcome.
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