A HYPOTHETICAL scenario in the Namoi Catchment Water Study - set for official release at public meetings on Tuesday - continued to divide farming and mining groups yesterday.
The opponents and proponents of coal and coal seam gas mining in the Liverpool Plains debated over the findings of scenario three which lists the effects of what could happen to the Namoi catchment's water if all the mining proposals set for the region are approved.
Farmers say it proves agriculture and mining are incompatible while mining advocates claim the cumulative impacts of coal mining can be managed.
Liverpool Plains farmer and Caroona Coal Action Group spokesman Tim Duddy yesterday told media outlets that scenario three revealed water loss would be about 2 per cent - the same figure the Murray-Darling Basin plan required for reductions in the valley.
He said the aquifer water lost to the mining industry would reduce the amount available to agriculture.Mr Duddy said that was if the seven mines and two gas fields – projects either in the pipeline or on the way – were all up and running.
Mr Duddy said that was if the seven mines and two gas fields – projects either in the pipeline or on the way – were all up and running.
"It actually shows that agriculture is no longer compatible land-use with mining once these projects are fully up and running," he said.
Mr Duddy said the long-term impacts for farmers meant they wouldn't be able to trade water in the valley and their businesses would suffer.
He urged all landholders and stakeholders affected by the proposals to attend Tuesday's meetings in Gunnedah and Quirindi.
"I'm sure we haven't seen the end of what this is and how it will play out because we will now have to overlay this modelling with water sharing plans," Mr Duddy said.
NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said, despite making assumptions that overestimated the likely impacts of coal mining on water resources in the region, information they saw demonstrated the cumulative impacts of mining were likely to be within the historical impacts of agricultural water use across the region.
Mr Galilee said the results indicated that even under hypothetical mining scenarios based on coal production levels significantly higher than currently approved or proposed, the potential impacts on the high-value alluvial aquifers were relatively small in the context of natural variation and the impacts of existing groundwater extraction.
"Most of these assumptions are conservative and result in overestimation of what the real impacts would be - a worst-case situation," he said.
"Over time, as there is greater certainty about potential development and more data becomes available, fewer assumptions will be required and improved predictions will result."