Queensland Country Life,
As of 13-7-2012 the department of natural resources and mines has placed a moratorium on the drilling of new stock and domestic water bores into the Condamine Alluviums, the Chinchilla Sand Aquifers and the Main Range Basalt Aquifers. This is for the owners of land who have access to reticulated town water. The moratorium will also apply to new subdivisions regardless whether they have town water connected or not. The reason given is to protect these aquifers for existing water entitlements.
I wish to remind the minister Mr. Cripps that each of these alluvium aquifers and a large percentage of the basalt aquifers are directly connected to the Walloon Coal Measures. These are aquifers that you are going to allow coal seam gas companies to dewater for the production of gas. It has already been reported that this process will have a high impact on these above systems.
Also it is not too many years ago that the original cementing conditions placed on a flowing artesian bore was to cement the casing to 200 feet from the surface and to cement off any known salt aquifers. For non flowing bores into the same aquifers it was to cement off any salt aquifers. This was a far cry from the high standards we have today that were introduced in 2005.
Therefore many of these bores drilled into the Huttons and other formations are not necessarily cemented off from the coal seams. As the water table is lowered it may allow the water to flow from these deeper formations back into the coal seams. With this lowering of the water table it will also increase the pressure of the gas. This gas pressure will in turn make the reconditioning of these bores or the drilling of new ones very difficult. This task may not be able to be carried with a conventional water well drilling rig, but may require specialised gas drilling equipment. This would come at a huge cost and well out of the range of the average land holder or local authority in the case of town water supply.
Who is going to be responsible for these costs?
Mineral exploration companies have been drilling test holes ever since drilling rigs were invented and prior to the first of January this year there has never been a requirement to decommission any of these holes. Many of these holes have been drilled through multiple aquifers and whereas the surface collapses in rather quickly, the remainder of the hole may stay open forever. There has also never been any need to report the location of any of these holes to any government authority. Therefore the location and number of these holes is unknown but would be in the countless thousands.
These holes have successfully connected every aquifer in the entire system and therefore the dewatering of the Walloons has the capability to affect every water bed in the region. Also as the gas pressure rises there is no reason why it will not escape to the atmosphere from these holes.
Mr Cripps you have placed a moratorium on every day Australians who are only ever going to use a negligible amount of water and claimed that it is to protect the resource, yet you are giving the right to multinational companies to completely dewater and alter many of our underground water systems, including the ones you have placed the moratorium on.
This is absolute hypocrisy!