The object of my submission is to maintain as a priority a sustainable, natural and quality water supply for the future use of people and particularly all Territory food producers, potential food producers and pastoralist within the short and long term. This can only be achieved by strictly controlling the use, allocation and monitoring of all water resources used in the Northern Territory for the process of Hydraulic Fracturing.
Potential water users such as Coal Seam Gas (CSG) activities, mineral exploration and mining should only be allocated water if they can prove their use of the water for Hydraulic Fracturing will not adversely affect the existing or potential primary and horticultural industries in any area. If recent media reports are correct, the activities of these mining organisations, (especially those using the process of Hydraulic Fracturing) would most likely contaminate the Northern Territories finite groundwater resources.
Tough approval conditions will mean little, unless they are followed up with strong and adequate enforcement and ongoing environmental monitoring. Research and the necessary baseline data must be in place before any development with a potential contamination activity is approved or commences. The power and influence of big organisations should not be allowed to streamline these types of developments; sufficient time needs to be given to the scientist and researchers doing the baseline studies for any development involving Hydraulic Fracturing.
It would appear that the Water Act & Regulations do not
have sufficient power or vigour to enforce compliance especially if
the Mining Act takes precedent over the water legislation. Stronger
legislation is required to better control the present excessive power
of the Mining Act over water and to determine the volume, scope and
quality of work necessary for a comprehensive assessment of the
groundwater, hydrogeology and geology in the Northern Territory?
The person or organisation responsible for filling the knowledge gaps must have the resources to gather the basic site information, baseline studies and details about the groundwater, hydrogeology and geology of the areas to be Hydraulic Fractured. The water resources of the Northern Territory covers a big area, so substantial professional staffing and resources will be needed, to fully prove the groundwater resources; therefore the government will need to budget for this work to be undertaken.
Connectivity between aquifers and / or basins and depressurisation associated with the process of Hydraulic Fracturing will also need to be researched, so aquifers are maintain and not disappear into some void created by the extraction of gas at a lower depth.
Your enquiry should also be asking and finding answers to the following specifically questions:
Thanking you for your attention to this matter.
Ann & Robert Taylor