CSG Webinar: Approved Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report

2016 Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report: What does it mean for landholders?
AgForce Projects CSG Project is dedicated to providing free and easily accessible information to landholders across Queensland about the CSG industry and developments regarding legislation and regulation.
Now the model has been finalised, what is the path forward?

The Chief Executive of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) approved the 2016 Surat Basin Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) with conditions and took effect as of the 19th September 2016. As a result, the 2012 UWIR ceased to apply from this date.

The model has identified immediately affected areas (IAA) which are impacts expected to bores (beyond trigger thresholds*) within three years of the model being released and long-term affected areas (LTAA) which are impacts predicted outside this three-year period.

Landholders with bores in the IAA should already have been contacted by the company which is responsible for the predicted impact. This is the company with the tenure (CSG permit) over your property or nearest to your property. Landholders with IAA bores should have been approached by the company to either negotiate access/arrangements to carry out a bore assessment or start negotiations to develop a make good agreement.

The Department has developed a fact sheet which helps explain the make good and bore assessment process once a UWIR has been approved including timeframes for these steps.

AgForce Projects reminds landholders that they are entitled to have their necessary and reasonable legal, accounting and valuation costs incurred to negotiate and prepare a make good agreement reimbursed by the responsible company. We also advise landholders to contact the Groundwater Investigation and Assessment Team (GIAT), within the CSG Compliance Unit (DNRM), for expert advice relating to groundwater investigations and advice on monitoring.

CSG Compliance Unit- Phone: (07) 4529 1500 - email: csg.enquiries@dnrm.qld.gov.au

Click here to download a copy of the model as well as a fact sheet explaining the findings. 

AgForce Projects also encourages landholders to log onto the DNRM website to view the 2016 UWIR bore search portal, which will allow landholders to put in their registered bore I.D number to see if their bore has been included in the immediately or long-term affected area:

*The trigger thresholds for different aquifers are:

  • 5 metre drop for consolidated aquifers (such as sandstones);
  • 2 metre drop for shallow alluvial aquifers (such as the Condamine Alluvium); and
  • 0.2 metre drop for springs

Landholders are reminded that if you believe your bore is experiencing an impact as a result of CSG activities and regardless of if it is not within the immediately or long-term affected area, you are still entitled to a make good agreement. The UWIR is designed to proactively model potential impacts but does not limit landholder rights to make good agreements resulting from impacts outside these predictions.

 

What are the noticeable changes from the 2012 model?

The most noticeable changes in the 2016 model compared to the 2012 model, is a contraction in the size/extent of the long-term affected areas (LTTA) and the number of bores within this impact area- 528 bores in 2012 compared to 469 in 2016.

This contraction in the extent of the LTTAs is shown below in figure one and two. This reduction is based on updated and improved groundwater knowledge, mapping of geological formations and a reduction in the number/area of gasfields expected to be brought into production. These updated production plans also include a reduction in the expected amount of CSG water to be extracted across the industry lifespan. In the 2016 model, the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA), responsible for developing the model, have indicated a 45% reduction in the total area over which production is either taking place or is planned in the future. Based on industry production estimates the 2016 model has been made on a reduced number of CSG wells being brought into production in comparison to 2012 numbers.

Variations in this model also include that since the release of the 2012 model additional gasfields have been established, with some targeting different formations which have also altered the 2016 predictions. Landholders are able to access this information on the DNRM website by either downloading the report or by viewing the OGIA fact sheet.


Comparison between 2016 and 2012 UWIR long-term affected areas
(Click to enlarge)

Figure one (left) showing the 2016 UWIR long-term affected area and figure two (right) showing the 2012 long-term affected area- highlighting the difference in the aquifer drawdown extent as a result of the CSG industry.


AgForce Projects encourages landholders to also view this information interactively by using the Queensland Globe CSG Globe, as shown in the webinar. Landholders are able to view the immediately and long-term affected areas as well as view individual registered bores identified in either area. The CSG Globe Data Mapping Tool can be downloaded here at no cost.

The 2016 UWIR has based its predictions on a peak production of 18,000 CSG wells, which is a reduction in the number of wells contained within the 2012 model. As above this reduction is due to market conditions and improvements in drilling technology, geology and hydrogeology knowledge as well as a reduction in the area required for production.

OGIA has included a ‘high development’ scenario which involves the installation of about 31,000 CSG wells. Under this development scenario, the number of water bores affected in the long term would be approximately 17% higher, and the total volume of water extracted over the lifetime of the industry approximately 43% higher.

AgForce Projects encourages landholders to remain aware and informed of the developments and changes in the future expansion of the CSG industry and the possible changes this may create to future UWIR drawdown areas and bores predicted to be impacted.


What are the long term impacts of CSG?

As outlined above, the model contains an immediately affected area (impacts within 3 years) and long-term affected area (impacts outside three years) which we encourage landholders to be aware of. The largest drawdown is within the Walloon Coal Measures, which is the target formation for CSG extraction across the Surat Basin.

AgForce Projects encourages landholders to review the information contained within the model and to view the CSG Globe to look at the extent of the IAA and LTTA areas.

Landholders with questions regarding the affected areas and to understand what it may mean for them are encouraged to contact the CSG & Mining Team for information; (07) 3236 3100 – csg@agforceprojects.org.au


How to conduct and who pays for baseline testing?

Under Queensland legislation a CSG company that has been granted a production tenure (petroleum lease-PL) are required to conduct a baseline assessment of all private landholder bores within the tenure area prior to commencing any CSG production in a ‘priority area’; or prior to production testing in the same aquifer as landholder bores, and within two kilometres horizontally in the priority area; or by 30 days after production testing in the priority area.

The Queensland Government has developed a Baseline Assessment Guideline which landholders are encouraged to view and discuss with their company representative. The guideline is intended to assist landholders in understanding what will be tested as part of the assessment, how this will be carried out and the input process for landholders.

We encourage landholders to begin conversations with their company representative at the beginning of land access negotiations or as soon as possible if you have already negotiated a CCA (Conduct and Compensation Agreement). AgForce Projects advises landholders to include a bore monitoring program as part of their CCA and to include ongoing monitoring provisions.

The CSG Compliance Unit (DNRM) also runs a very important program called CSG Net. CSG Net is a project that provides landholders with the knowledge, tools and support to monitor their own bore and provides landholders with the ability to record and report these bore readings into a regional database maintained by the unit, which helps to fill gaps in the regional monitoring network.

Landholders who would like more information on CSG Net are encouraged to contact the CSG Compliance Unit; Phone: (07) 4529 1500 - email: csg.enquiries@dnrm.qld.gov.au

Click here for more information on CSG Net.


Will the report contain imagery or maps of impact areas?

Both the 2016 and 2012 UWIR’s contain maps showing the predicted drawdown in aquifers across the Surat Basin and this information is also available on the CSG Globe. AgForce Projects encourages landholders to view these drawdown maps as they are useful tools in identifying the potential risk to your bore and should be included in your own bore monitoring strategy. These drawdown maps can also provide important and useful information in make good negotiations, particularly when looking at developing agreements for alternative bore supply options.

Both the 2016 and 2012 UWIR’s contain maps showing the predicted drawdown in aquifers across the Surat Basin and this information is also available on the CSG Globe. AgForce Projects encourages landholders to view these drawdown maps as they are useful tools in identifying the potential risk to your bore and should be included in your own bore monitoring strategy. These drawdown maps can also provide important and useful information in make good negotiations, particularly when looking at developing agreements for alternative bore supply options.



How do you protect yourself if the CSG well is on a neighbouring property?

The design of the Surat Basin UWIR is to include potential impacts to bores and aquifers across the region, including properties without CSG activity occurring. Even though you may not have CSG activity on your property, the connected nature of the Surat Basin aquifers and interaction with CSG activities may lead to impacts. Landholders with registered bores within the cumulative management area (CMA) are already included in the model. However unregistered bores are not included. If you are concerned about CSG activities occurring in your region we encourage you to look at the immediate and long-term affected areas by accessing the CSG Globe as well as contacting the AgForce Projects CSG & Mining Team and the CSG Compliance Unit (DNRM).

As mentioned above CSG Net provides landholders with the access to information, support and tools to develop bore monitoring strategies and assists to improve the accuracy of long-term predictions. We encourage landholders to contact the CSG Compliance Unit for information: Phone: (07) 4529 1500 - email: csg.enquiries@dnrm.qld.gov.au

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