WITHOUT a control site, the government’s plan to monitor the impacts of coal seam gas on ground water is pointless, the Pilliga Environment Centre says.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Water will install two bores in the Pilliga forest, where Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project is located.
While locals are enthusiastic to see the government take an interest in the matter, they said the proposed sites would not give a true indication of the natural water conditions.
Pilliga Environment Centre spokesman David Paull said unless the monitoring was done correctly, it was redundant or even dangerous.
“There’s an obvious hurry to get some monitoring sites in, but one bore site has issues according to DPI Water, while the other is to be placed within an area which was heavily fracked ten years ago,” Mr Paull said.
“DPI Water admitted that they selected the nested bore site because of the legacy issues from fracking in the area. But how will this inform baseline conditions if we don’t know what the water quality was like prior to fracking?”
“There is no surety that information will be accurate. If the area that has already been fracked is incorrectly assumed as the baseline, that's going to have a flow-on effect for all future water data.”
Artesian Bore Water Users Association president Anne Kennedy called on the government to install a control site upstream of the gas field.
“[Without a control] this could lead to characterisation of water from areas already disturbed by coal seam gas activities as being normal,” Ms Kennedy said.
A DPI Water Spokesperson said the site’s selection was subject to “an environmental assessment and considered a range of factors including hydrogeology, gaps in existing data, proposed mining and industrial activities and stakeholder and community input”.
“The Gunnedah Basin monitoring bore is part of a series of new bores that are being constructed to fill a gap in the NSW groundwater monitoring network and will be placed in each basin to assess any potential impacts over time,” they said.