Gas is 'choking' ag sector

LONG-TERM INTEREST: Lee McNicholl, Basin Sustainability Alliance Chairman.
LONG-TERM INTEREST: Lee McNicholl, Basin Sustainability Alliance Chairman. Contributed

THE Basin Sustainability Alliance is calling for the Queensland Government to cap the gas industry's unlimited access to water from the Great Artesian Basin as the Government works towards a new draft of The Great Artesian Basin and other Regional Aquifiers (GABORA) Water Plan before it expires in September.

Established in 2010, the BSA represents the interests of landholders and rural communities in south-west Queensland concerned with the long-term impacts of the CSG industry on the GBA and advocates for the sustainable management of the basin to ensure its longevity for future generations of primary producers in the area.

The BSA responded to a public notice published by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in January with a detailed submission outlining its concerns that the Government has failed to regulate the resource sector's extraction of water from the GBA.

BSA chair Lee McNicholl said the group has a long-term interest in the sustainable use of the GAB environmental concerns.

"We know you can't keep taking more out of the bath tub then you put into it, otherwise it runs dry,” he said.

He said the CSG industry's current unlimited take of GBA water "fails the test of intergenerational equity” and is damaging to everyone who lives in western Queensland who depends on the resource.

The GABORA Water Plan draft provides for 35,055 ML of additional unallocated water for new development in the plan's area with 28,610ML, or 80%, of this amount reserved for major projects, mainly gas, mining and power stations.

Meanwhile, 5,615ML or 16% is proposed as general reserve water for agriculture and 830ML or 4% is Indigenous reserve for community projects, while within the Surat Basin only 840ML of unallocated water has been made available for agriculture.

"Everybody else has got an allocation, which it is supposed to adhere to but the resource sector in Queensland has unlimited take and that is the fundamental insanity of all this,” Mr McNicholl said.

"They need to have a limited amount like everybody else and then we need to have a debate about who can use the water... the farming sector, which lasts forever, or the resources sector, which takes what it wants to the detriment of the GAB to get a product in the short term.”

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