The final report of a Senate Inquiry into water use by mining operations has recommended expanding Commonwealth control over water use, and dramatically improving understanding of water use by mining industries to help reduce the conflict between water use by mining operations, and agriculture and the environment.
“Australia is at a crossroads - large parts of our country are facing extreme drought, yet the fossil fuel mining industry is taking billions of litres of water which would otherwise be available for our regional communities and the environment,” said Chair of the Committee, Australian Greens Senator Janet Rice.
A key recommendation of the Inquiry is to expand the application of the ‘water trigger’. Currently only coal and coal-seam gas projects projects need to be assessed by the Commonwealth. The Senate Committee recommends that the use of the water trigger be expanded to include all unconventional gas projects.
Other recommendations include prioritising a better knowledge of the cumulative impacts of projects, more funding for the Department of Energy and Environment to monitor and ensure compliance by the fossil fuel industry, and publishing real time data so the community knows just how much water is actually being used by mining.
“This report demonstrates that massive and poorly regulated mining projects using billions of litres of water each year are in direct conflict with a healthy environment and agricultural production.”
“I’m pleased that Labor supported many of the recommendations in the report. But the recommendations don’t go far enough. We need a phase-out of coal and unconventional gas to better protect our water resources.”
“And we absolutely must stop projects like the Adani coal mine, which has recently been granted an unlimited water licence to extract 12.5 billion litres of water per year from the drought-stricken Suttor River, on top of its licence to use unlimited amounts of groundwater. This is just obscene and untenable.”
"Both major parties have taken millions from the fossil fuel industry. In return the major parties are continuing to prop up polluting and dying industries like coal. This must stop."
“For the health of our agriculture industry and environment, the major parties need to get their hands out of the pockets of fossil fuel corporations.”