Underground water monitoring to increase in the Surat Basin
The independent Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) is increasing water monitoring in the Surat Basin by 12 per cent over the next three years—to approximately 630 monitoring points.
The increased surveillance – detailed in the draft 2019 Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) released today for public feedback – will help track water flows connected to 22,000 bores across the Surat Basin and identify areas that could potentially be impacted by onshore gas production.
“The UWIR is about equipping industry, landholders and government with the information they need to make informed decisions about underground water management in the Surat,” OGIA General Manager Sanjeev Pandey said.
“This is Queensland’s third report for the Surat Basin since 2012, and takes into account changes in the industry’s planned development, improvements in geological modelling, and new knowledge about groundwater flow.”
The draft report notes that current water extraction for onshore gas production in the Surat and southern Bowen Basin is about 60,000 ML/year (which is treated and reused for agricultural purposes), while non-gas related extraction is around three times higher at 164,000 ML/year in the same area.
“There are currently 6,800 gas wells, with 21,000 projected by 2050, and increases in impacts and monitoring go hand in hand,” Mr Pandey said.
The number of wells is a third less than the number proposed when the projects were approved.
Queensland laws ensure that landholders are not disadvantaged by water impacts from onshore gas production. If a bore assessment shows that onshore gas production has, or has likely, impacted a bore then make good measures must be negotiated by the resource authority holders and the bore owner to ‘make good’ the impact.
“In the next three years, 101 water bores are predicted to be impacted, for which resource authority holders will need to do a bore assessment of and enter into make good arrangements,” Mr Pandey said.
“Once our final report takes effect, resource authority holders have on average 60 business days to make a bore assessment on these 101 bores.”
Public information sessions on the draft 2019 UWIR are scheduled in five regional centres – Toowoomba, Dalby, Chinchilla, Roma and Wandoan – from 20 to 25 June 2019, with information on times and venues to be advised.
Other draft 2019 UWIR findings include:
- 574 water bores are predicted to be impacted in the long term.
- In two important aquifers, the Hutton Sandstone and the Condamine Alluvium, predicted impacts are now less than those predicted in 2016. However, more impact is predicted in the Walloon Coal Measures and the Springbok Sandstone.
- Current onshore gas production water extraction is about 60,000 ML/year from 6,800 wells. Average onshore gas production water extraction over the life of the industry is predicted to be around 51,000 ML/year.
- The estimate of unmetered non-gas groundwater extraction is about 164,000 ML/year, of which 41,000 ML/year is from the Great Artesian Basin. This is a 20 per cent reduction from the 2016 estimates.
The UWIR is available at www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/mining-energy-water/resources/landholders/csg/surat-cma/uwir with public comment closing on 01 July 2019.
Last updated 28 May 2019