In early 2016, a draft update to the Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) for the Surat Cumulative Management Area (SCMA) will be released by the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) for public consultation.
We strongly recommend all landowners review the draft update UWIR to determine whether their bores will be affected by the continued water extraction in the region.
The current UWIR was approved by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and became effective on 1 December 2012. The report assesses the anticipated impacts of cumulative water extraction by coal seam gas companies on underground water resources such as bores and springs in the SCMA. The report identified some 85 bores that would be immediately affected by the water extraction and no longer be capable of producing a reasonable quantity or quality of water for the authorised use of the bore (eg. stock or domestic purposes).
Coal seam gas companies are obliged under the Water Act 2000 to “make good” immediately impacted bores by negotiating make good agreements with bore owners. These agreements set out the “make good” measures for the bores such as compensation for the loss of the bore, drilling a new bore, bore enhancement or monitoring the bore. Coal seam gas companies are required to pay reasonable legal, valuation and accounting costs incurred by bore owners to negotiate a make good agreement.
It is critical that all landowners review the draft update UWIR. If the draft report identifies a likely impact to your bore then you should seek advice about negotiating a make good agreement including advice about the appropriate “make good” measures in the circumstances.
If the draft report does not assess a likely impact to your bore and you are of the view that it is being impacted or is likely to be impacted, you should make a submission to OGIA setting out the impacts being suffered and seek a re-assessment of the bore’s status. We are happy to assist with these submissions on a pro bono basis.
If you experience an impact to your bore prior to the release of the draft UWIR, you should contact the Groundwater Investigation and Assessment Team within the Department of Natural Resources and Mines requesting that a bore assessment take place to confirm the status of the bore. If the bore is impacted, the relevant coal seam gas company will be obliged to “make good” the bore.