NSW Government fails with consultant review of Namoi Water Study

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Namoi Community Network                     Media Release                                      18th March 2013 

 

   NSW Government fails with consultant review of Namoi Water Study

Regional communities who took the time to read the Namoi Catchment Water Study review last week by Dr Don Barnett can only conclude that it is some kind of joke. The long awaited review lacks any credibility and the NSW State Government’s commitment to science based assessment is now in question.

“Mining Minister Chris Hartcher must accept responsibility for bringing the entire process to the point of farce” said Hugh Price Chair of the Namoi Community Network.” It’s no wonder the Federal Government is moving to regulate water impacts as a result of mining and CSG.   The NSW Government chose a reviewer, who has throughout his career been employed by the mining industry, and has admitted he has no understanding or expertise in water – referring to it as “not my thing”. ”

“The Namoi Community Network is amazed that 8 months after the Namoi Catchment  Water Study was published; the long awaited, community requested, Scenario 7 was finally released last week, showing Minister Chris Hartcher spent tax payer dollars to determine if the $5 million dollar water study scenarios were feasible.”

“The Namoi Catchment Water Study has been progressing over the last four years as a ground up process agreed to by the mining industry and community, with clear Terms of Reference regarding the Study’s aims and objectives. Intentionally, and agreed by all parties, consideration of economic and infrastructure constraints were excluded.”

“It is obvious Dr Barnett, the reviewer, had not read the terms of reference for the Study as his understanding of its objectives are demonstrably lacking.  The basis of his findings is that the rail and port capacity prevents the development of the Namoi resources past current mining. This is not disputed given the proposed mines will see uncovered coal trains run through the region some 6 minutes apart.  What is apparent is his complete lack of ability to appraise the hydrogeological findings of the Study and the predicted cumulative impacts from extractive mining before the damage is done.

“The Namoi Catchment Water Study, for which people in our community have invested years of their lives to understand the science behind coal and gas impacts on water resources, was developed to show the potential impact on water resources using various scenarios which have been sensitivity tested.” said Hugh Price.

The Water Study concludes that with current and proposed mines there are high risk areas.  Coal Mining close to the alluviums (our world standard premium soils) is a high risk and will cause irreversible damage. Surface and Groundwater will be dramatically impacted by ‘artificial breaks’ in the ground structure.

Review of the water management plans of the mines and CSG industries in the Water Study highlight that most plans will not cater for all water in major rain events and excess mine water will have be returned to the system as environmental contamination.

 

“As a matter of urgency The NSW Government needs to undertake an independent peer review of the Study as per the agreed terms of reference, and also adopt the accepted guidelines of the Murray Darling Basin Commission.  We need to put this so called ‘review’ behind us and focus on the high risk areas the Water Study has clearly identified, because once the impacts to our water resources occur, it will be impossible to reverse them.  Mr Price concluded.