Information GuidelinesProposals Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources

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IESC 12 February 2013



1

Purpose of
these
guidelines

The Australian Government and
a number of
s
tates
(Victoria, New South Wales, South
Australia,
and
Queensland)

have entered into a
National Partnership
A
greement on Coal Sea
m
Gas (CSG) and Large Coal Mining Development

(the
a
greement)
.

The objective of the
a
greement is to
strengthen the regulation of CSG and large coal
mining development by ensuring that future
decisions are informed by substantially
improved science

and inde
pendent expert
advice.

The
a
greement
seeks to

facilitate the
achieve
ment of the following outcomes:



increased
scientific
evidence
that
supports
regional scale management of CSG and
large coal mining developments
, as

related
to

t
heir impact on water resourc
es



strengthened scientific evidence and
independent expertise
that
informs
regulatory decisions on
individual and
cumulative
CSG and
large
coal mining
developments that are likely to have a
significant

impact on water resources



well informed communities ha
ving

greater
confidence in
Australian Government

and
s
tate regulation of CSG and large coal
mining development
s
.

The
outcomes of the a
greement are to

be
achieved

in part
by

provision of
scientific
advice

to governments

by
an Independent
Expert Scientific
Committee on Coal Seam Gas
and Large Coal Mining

Development
(
the
C
ommittee
)
.
The
Committee
is established as a
statutory committee under the
Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
A
mendment (Independent Expert Scientific
Committee on Coal Se
am Gas and Large Coal
Mining
Development) Act
2012
.

The
Committee
will provide independent
advice

on development
proposals
about
relevant coal seam gas and large coal mining
approvals that are li
kely to have
a
significant
impact

on
surface and ground
water

resources.

The
Committee

will also improve the scientific
understanding of the interaction of coal seam
gas and coal mining developments and water
resources

generally. It will do this

by

sponsoring
research on
potential
impacts on
water resources
by

CSG an
d large coal mine

projects and

by
scoping and advising on
bioregional assessments.

The results of this research and the bioregional
assessments will enhance the knowledge base
on which the
Committee
draws to provide
advice to governments on CSG and large c
oal
mine development proposals
.

The
Committee
is aware of the need to have reliable data that
is of sufficient quality and
scope
to support
the
assessment of individual projects and their
potential cumulative impacts

when considered
in conjunction with oth
er
developments
.

The
Committee
, in validating
, extending

and
improving the scientific understanding of the
impacts of CSG and large coal mining
Independent Expert Scientific Committee
Information Guidelines

for

Proposals Relating to the Development of
Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines

where
there is a Significant Impact on Water
Resources

Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals R
elating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC 12 February 2013

2

developments, will
also

inform policy
development

more broadly

and
comple
ment
the assessments
and decisions
undertaken by

proponents,

s
tate a
gencies

under relevant
state legislation
and

the Australian
Government
under the
Environmental
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
1999

(
EPBC Act
)
. The aim of all governments
is
that the work

of
the
Committee

will
be
pragmatic and
better inform regulatory
decision making
processes.

Under the agreement the signatory s
tates have
agreed to seek advice from the
Committee
at
appropriate stages of the approvals process for
a CSG or large coal mining development
proposal t
hat is likely to have a significant
impact

on wat
er resources,

(refer to
D
efinitions page 1
2
)

and on which the s
tate i
s
intending to make a decision.

The relevant s
tates are operating under
differing policy and

regulatory
frameworks
.

Accordingly
referrals
may

be made at different
stages in the assessment and approval process
for a CSG or large coal mining development
proposal. The stage
at which
the
referral

is
made
will impact on the type and amount of
information available to inform the referral
documentation provided to the
Committee
;
this in turn will determine the detail of the
advice that the
Committee
will be able to
provide.

The
C
ommittee
’s

advice to governmen
ts

on
CSG and large coal

mining development
proposals

will be scientific in nature.
The
Committee
does

not make regulatory decisions.

Project a
dvice will be provided in response to a
request from the regulator
. T
he information
and considerations provided

a
re

designed to
assist and support statutory decision maker
s
.

The nature of the type of advice envisaged by
the Nationa
l Partnership a
greement includes
:



potential hydrological and hydro
-
geological
impacts on the quality and quantity of
water available in Au
stralia’s catchments
and groundwater resources



potential impacts on the quality, biological
integrity, structural integrity and hydraulic
balance of ground and surface water
resources



how potential impacts on water resources
may be avoided, minimized or mi
tigated



appropriate management and monitoring
of the impacts of CSG or large coal mining
proposals on water resources.

The
Committee’s

Terms of Reference require it
to
make public

g
uidelines addressing the
information requiremen
ts considered
necessary by the
C
ommittee
to undertake its
activities in a timely
fashion
.
These information
guidelines are intended to
fulfill

this

requirement.

Statutory context

The a
greement recognises th
at state and
t
erritory Governments have the primar
y role in
regulating CSG and large coal mining
developments. The
Australian

Government’s
statutory role in regulating any of these
developments relates to significant impacts on
Matters of National Environmental
Significance
under

the

EPBC Act
.

The
s
tates
and
t
erritories
have
broader
statutory roles in environmental
impact assessment, in
monitoring and
regulating air and water quality, and in
hazard
ous waste management.
More
information
on these roles f
or the partners to
this
agreement is

available

at:


NSW




www.nsw.gov.au/information
-
about/environment
-
resources


Q
ueensland



www.ehp.qld.g
ov.au/management/impact
-
assessment/index.html

S
outh
A
ustralia




www.sa.gov.au/subject/water%2C+energy+an
d+environment


Vic
toria




www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/environment
-
assessment


The
Australian Government and

the states and
t
erritories have
also
entered into bilateral
agreements that
provide for the joint
assessment of proposals requiring
environmental

impact assessment

under the
EPBC Act.

Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Reso
urce
s


IESC 12 February 2013

3

For

CSG and large coal mining developments
,

t
he signatory s
tates
to the
National Partnership
Agreement
have
each
agreed to publish a
p
rotocol that describes how they will decide
which project applications will be referred to
the
Committee
for advice.
These Information
Guidelines should be read in conjunction with
the relevant
p
rotocols.
More information on
state protocols can be found at
:

www.environment.gov.au/coal
-
seam
-
gas
-
mining/index.html

or

www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/
planning/environment
-
assessment/useful
-
documents

www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments
-
and
-
approvals/significant
-
projects.html

www.waterconnect.sa.gov.au/WaterManagem
ent/WaterPlanning/Pages/LegislationAndAgree
ments.aspx

Terms of Reference

The
Committee’s
role
, as set out in legislation,

is to

examin
e

proposals where there is likely to
be a significant impact on water resources
,
including any impacts of associated salt
production and/or salinity
.

The
Committee’s
Terms of Reference
, which is
a schedule to the
a
greement,
indicate that
significant

impact on water resources may be
caused by a single action or the cumulative
impact of multiple actions that would directly
or indirectly
:



r
esult in a substantial change in the
quantity, quality or availability of surface or
groundwater



s
ubstantially alte
r ground water pressure
and/or water table levels



a
lter the ecological character of a wetland
that
is s
tate significant or a
n internationally
listed

Ramsar wetland



d
ivert or impound rivers or creeks or
substantially alter drainage patterns



r
educe biologica
l diversity or change
species composition

as a result of impacts
on water resources



a
lter coastal processes, including sediment
movement or accretion
, or water circulation
patterns



r
esult in persistent organic chemicals, heavy
metals or other potentially h
armful
chemicals accumulating in the
aquatic
environments such that biodiversity,
ecological integrity, human health or other
community and economic use may be
adversely affect



s
ubstantially increase demand for, or
reduce the availability of water for huma
n
consumption.

Other matters referred to the
Committee

As well as providing project advice for CSG and
large coal mining developments as described
above, t
he
Committee’s
Terms of Reference
include
that the
Committee
may
also
provide
advice in the following

instances
:



w
here the
Australian Government
Environment Minister

requests advice that
is related to a matter of national
environmental significance in accordance
with the EPBC Act



w
here the
Australian Government
Environment Minister
supports a request
by
one or more
signatories to the National
Partnership Agreement
for advice t
hat is
within the scope of the
Committee’s
expertise.

In the event that the
Committee
receives a
referral

under this Term of Reference it will
provide guidance on its information
requirements
for the referral
in the context of
the specific request.

W
here the complexity, scale or
specifics
of a
proposal
means

that a significantly different
approach to the prov
ision of information on
which to assess the proposal is warranted
, the
regulator
can consult with the
Committee
on
how
best to

seek t
he
Committee’s
advice.

Risk based

approach

The
Committee
endorses the use of
a risk
based
assessment approach
as
the best
w
ay
for it
to
provide

advice

on proposals
.
The
Committee

supports
proponents and
Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guide
lines for

Proposals Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Reso
urces


IESC 12 February 2013

4

regulators
using a
n explicit

risk based appraisal
of
the impacts of
CSG and
large
coal
mining
developments on water
related

values and
assets

to

underpin sound decision making
.

The
Committee

is not
prescribing one

particular risk based method
ology
, noting that
a risk based methodology
is already explicit in
most environmental impact assessment
s.

However
the
Committee

expect
s

to review and
evaluate the proponent

s assessment of r
isk
, in
conjunction wi
th
any
information
provided by
relevant s
tate or
Australian Government

regulators
in their requests for advice to the
Committee
on individual project risk
s

or
cumulative impacts
.

Wh
ere a proposal referred to the
Committee

could have a significant impact on vulnerable
water resources and
water
related
assets
(see
Definitions on p 1
2
)
the propo
nent

will need to
determine
the scope of
potential impacts and
the risk associated with their likelihood and
magnitude.
T
he risk asse
ssment
should

address
the impact of each single development as well
as the cumulative impact of all developments.

The advice t
he
Committee

provides and any
actions it recommends to mitigate risks will be
framed according to the identified severity of
the r
isk.

If the risk is considered sufficiently high,
according to the likelihood that it will occur
and the consequence if it does, then the
Committee

will
also
consider whether the
proponent has demonstrated that the risk can
be mitigated to an acceptable
level.

Water balance

The
Committee

considers

that applying a water
balance
model

is the most appropriate basis
for assessing
potential

change
s

i
n water
resources
,
impacts on vulnerable water related
assets,
dealing with
community concerns
and
giving
clarity to business.

In general terms a water balance considers all
inputs, outputs and exchanges of water within
a
designated
region, related to both surface
water and groundwater.

The water balance for the whole water system
can be prepared by calculatin
g the volume of
surface waters (rivers, lakes or wetlands) and
underground stores of water

(aquifers)
. Flows
between these stores of water can be
described as gains or losses, leading to a water
balance descript
ion for the whole water
system.

An example
of

a
conceptual model that could
assist in developing a water balance, showing

aquifers and aquitards, and how
groundwater
systems interact
with possible CSG extraction
,
is provided below in relation to the Surat Basin
in
Queensland
.


Informed by

knowledge about where water
comes from, where it goes in the landscape
and what change
s are likely

with a new
development, it will
then
be possible to make
a
n

informed assessment of impacts

and risk

to
water
related

assets
.

A site specific water
balance f
or each project complemented by a
regional water balance is preferred as detailed
below in
Information needs
.

Adaptive

a
pproach

As the Committee
compiles

and shares both
existing and new research

data
,

it is anticipated
that
scientific
understanding
by

the

Committee
,
governments
, industry

and the public
,

of
potential impacts and mitigation measures on

Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impa
ct on Water Resources


IESC 12 February 2013

5

water resources created by CSG and large coal

min
ing

developments will grow.

This
improved knowledge
will
then
feed into
the development of more sophisticated

analytical cap
abilities to be applied by the
Committee
, proponents and governments
when
assess
ing

proposals.

The
Committee

envisages that over time
these
information guidelines will be refined and
enhanced through the availability of
improved

analytical tools and a better knowledge base
about the potential impact of proposals on
water resources.

The
Committee

also believes that over time
regulatory approvals,
licen
c
e

applications and
environmental impact s
tatements will evolve
to address
the w
idest

range of potential
concerns
,

including the full range of potential
water

related

impacts envisaged by the
National Partnership Agreement’s
interpretation of “significant impact”.

Collaborati
on

The
Committee

intends to pursue its work
program in

a
n

op
en
and collaborative manner
,

building on existing knowledge and expertise
wherever possible. Priorities for research
projects to fill knowledge gaps
will
be

guided
by consultation with
s
tate and
t
erritory
government agencies, scientific agencies
,
regional
natural resource management bodies
as well as

industry.

In providing advice on proposed CSG and la
rge
coal mine developments the
Committee

will
design its approach for
responding to

governments, decision makers, proponents
and the public
by
being pragmatic

and
adding
value in a collaborative fashion.

Nature of Advice

from
the
Committee

The
Committee

proposes to prepare
publicly
available
scientific
advice for each
proposal
that

is referred to it.
In accordance with its
Terms of Reference the
Committee

is
re
quired
to
provide its advice
to the regulator
within no
more than two months of receiving a request

and
it is intended
it will be publicly released
in
the context of
the regulatory decision
.

The
Committee

will consider whether the
assessments have used:



relevant data and information



appropriate methodologies
which

have
been applied correctly



reasonable values and parameters in
calculations.

Th
e

advice
of the
Committee

can
include

but
not
be limited to
:



w
hether the information and methodology
used was the
best available at the time,
and

whether the assessment of risk

has
been
properly
done



c
ritical data
and information
gaps that
need to be filled to complete an adequate
assessment



a
n assessment of the
adequacy and
impact
on the relevant regional
and site
water
balance

model



t
he impacts of the proposal, and th
eir

likely
severity

and risk

to water
related
assets
,
water dependent environmental values
and other users



e
cological consequences that are directly
related to water resources



t
he cumulative impact of
the proposal in
the context of all past, present and/or
reasonably foreseeable developments,
when considered in combination



a
dvice on the adequacy of measures
proposed to mitigate risks



a
dvice on any additional measures that
regulators might consider to mi
tigate risks
from the proposal



a
dvice on management and monitoring of
the impact of
developments

on water
resources



q
ualifications

or measures of uncertainty
about the advice provided
,

including
drawing on any measures of uncertainty or
certainty identifie
d by the regulator.

A checklist is
included
at the end of these

guidelines
to assist the

Committee

in
considering referrals that it receives

from
s
tate
and
Australian
Government regulators
.
The
Independent Expert Scientific Committ
ee Information Guidelines for

Proposals Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Reso
urces


IESC 12 February 2013

6

checklist

is based on the
information
needs
id
entified in thes
e guidelines
.

Information
needs
for
Committee

a
dvice

The information
needs
of the
Committee

will
vary for individual proposals, depending at
what point in the assessment and approvals
process the proposal is referred
for advice
.

It is
envisaged that most of the information
requirements identified here will be provided
by proponents as content in their proposal
documentation.

This may be augmented by
further information required or generated by
the jurisdiction regulators.

A descr
iption of the proposal

An overall description of the proposal that will
give insight into its purpose, character, scale
and the means by which it is likely to have a
significant impact on water resources.

Background data and modelling

This will provide a

detailed description of
baseline water
resources

including
critical
water dependent values of
concern supported

by those
resources
. This should include but not
be limited to
:

1.

Identification of water related assets
(aquatic ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystem
s,
drinking water supply and human health,
irrigation water supply, surface
infrastructure, industry, regional
communities, aquifers) including fauna,
flora and species habitat surveys as they
relate to dependence on water resources,
including location of
springs and other
groundwater dependent ecosystems
(GDEs), identification of the geological
formation/ aquifer to which the springs
and GDEs are connected and an estimation
of the ecological water requirements of
identified springs and GDEs.

2.

A
site specifi
c

water balance for each
project

complemented by a regional water
balance
, which should cover the larger
area of potential impact
.

3.

A description
of the water resources of the
site and region
including maps of all
surface water and ground water
re
sources
r
elevant to the project
,

incorporating
h
ydrographs and raw data (i.e
.

c
urrent
standing water levels

and any records of
seasonal
and historic annual
variations in
level
, quality and date of measurement)
,
along with elevations of the reference
points from whi
ch water levels were
measured.

4.

Descriptions of geology and hydrogeology
at an appropriate level of spatial and
vertical resolution

(
i.e. at both site and
regional scale
.
)

Definition of the geological
sequence in the area with names and
descriptions of the
formations from
youngest to oldest with accompanying
surface geology and cross sections
.

Descri
ptions of

hydraulic characteristics
(e.g.
hydraulic conductivity and storage
characteristics
) for each aquifer. The map
and map legend
should

use appropriate
sym
bols and name
s

and describe all
formations and structures acc
ording to
geological convention and clearly indicate
the bore holes from which data is derived.

Defin
ition
s

of

any geological structures (e
.
g
.

faults) in the area and outline
s

of
the
influence of

the structures on groundwater,
in particular groundwater flow or recharge.

5.

P
resent
ation of data

to demonstrate the
varying depths to the aquifers and
associated standing water

levels or
potentiometric heads and hydrochemical
characteristics.

6.

Definition of
the likely recharge sources for
each aquifer, details of discharge from the
aquifers, direction of groundwater flow
and contours of groundwater elevations
for all aquifers likely to be impacted by the
proposed development
.

7.

Assessments of the
extent of hydrological
interactions between water sources

including
surface water/ groundwater
connectivity
, inter
-
aquifer connectivity and
connectivity with sea water
.

Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there i
s a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC 12 February 2013

7

8.

Surface water and groundwater
assessments and
modeling, including
detailed
hydrology

an
d

water quality
parameters

(such as
relevant organic
chemicals, heavy metals,

radionuclides and

other potentially harmful chemicals
).

9.

Numeric groundwater model that is
calibrated to baseline conditions and
enables a probabilistic evaluation of
potential fu
ture scenarios.
The
groundwater
modelling

should:



o
utline the model conceptualisation of
the aquifer system or systems,
including key assumptions and model
limitations



r
epresent each aquifer, storage and
flow characteristics of each aquifer,
linkages
between aquifers, if any, and
the existing recharge/discharge
pathways of the aquifers and the
changes that are predicted to occur
upon commencement of the
development activities



i
ncorporate the various stages of the
proposed development and provide
predic
tions of water level/pressure
declines in each aquifer for the life of
the project and beyond



p
rovide information on the time to
maximum drawdown and the time for
drawdown equilibrium to be reached



i
dentify the volumes predicted to be
dewatered on an annua
l basis with an
indication of the proportion supplied
from each aquifer



p
rovide information on potential water
level recovery rates and timeframes in
each aquifer for the life of the project
and beyond



i
nclude recommendations and a
program for review and u
pdate of the
model as more data and information
become available.

10.

Relevant information generated by a
bioregional assessment. Where a
bioregional assessment has not yet been
completed
,

best available information
should be
used
in describing the existing
st
ate
of water related ecosystems and
processes
at the regional scale.

11.

An assessment of the quality of and risks
inherent in the data used
in the
background data and modelling
.

Water
balance

The
Committee

considers

that a

water balance
should
be developed
a
nd applied
to
new CSG
and large coal min
ing

developments based on
the results of numerical modelling.


The water balance
outlined below is a
conceptual representation
of a site specific
water balance
that has been purpose built for
CSG and large coal
minin
g
developments.





Independent Exper
t Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals

Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC

12 February 2013

8

C
onceptual Water Balance





Aquitards
Overlying aquifers
Target Coal Measures
Aquitards
Deeper Aquifers
Mine
/
gas
production
tasks
Precipitation
Evaporation
Injection to groundwater
Downstream inflows
Discharge and Use
Recharge
Discharge and Use
Recharge
Discharge and Use
Recharge
Other water import
Evaporation
Precipitation
Upstream
inflows

Extraction for
/
from
Gas or mining
Surface water
Primary mine and
/
or gas
driven flows
Flows that can
potentially be influenced
by mining or gas primary
flows
Aquitards
Basement Layer
Surface
(
unconfined Aquifer
)
Aquitards
Dust suppression
Irrigation
Discharge to
surface streams
Managed Aquifer
Recharge
Stock and
Domestic
Environmental
Flows
Treatment
A
B
C
C
D
E
F
G
H
H
H
Salts and heavy metals
Brine
storages
Surface Water Storages
GL
Other Uses
Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals

Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal

Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC

12 February 2013

9

Information is required about the water
balance for the whole system, the set of water
stores within the system boundary and the
flo
w of water between those stores
.


The pro
posal needs to assess the change to any
store or flow of water in the system arising
from

the development. The proposal also
needs to consider
the

water
dependent

assets
within the region
and whether they
are
likely
to be
vulnerable to a
change in the
store or
flow of water

arising from the development
.


Specific flows and changes that need to be
identified as indicated in the diagram above
include:

A.

When

the
target
coal me
asure
is
depressured there are changes to aquifer
storage properties and groundwat
er flows
and pressures
.

B.

In open cut mining, d
ewatering of
overlying aquifers might be required to
allow safe open cut access to the
underlying coal in open cut mining. Water
can also seep from surface stores into the
soil and eventually enter and be
transf
erred between aquifers if there is
connectivity.

C.

When the water in the coal measures is
perturbed there is a natural tendency of
the water system to attempt to return to
its original state
(re
-
equilibrate) over
extended periods of time.

Initially, this wi
ll
mean that the coal measure (or the void
where it was) will form a location to which
water will be drawn (for CSG a low
pressure area).
This can involve an
e
xchange of water between
overlying
and/or underlying
aquifers

and the target
coal measure. This w
ould be
a primary
direct impact of CSG extraction. These
flows should be estimated for all major
aquifers over the project area.

D.

Water from coal measures is often saline
and may contain a range of compounds
(constituents). Treatment involves removal
of sed
iment, salt and other constituents to
acceptable levels. When water is
desalinated a clean stream is produced
(known as permeate) which is held in
surface stores. The residual is known as
brine
.

Treatment processes
, disposal
methods

and volumes need to be
identified
.

E.

Water from various sources held in surface
stores,
(
e.g.

directly extracted from coal
measures or aquifers, collected from
surface flows, rainfall

interception
,
treatment brine and permeate
)

can
sometimes be
injected

into unde
rground
stores.
All

volumes and quality of water
intended for injection
should

be identified
.

F.

The use of w
ate
r extracted from mining
and CSG

and that which is
subsequently
treated
for a range of tasks. In coal mining
these are often within the mine itself

(
e.g.

coal wash
ing, dust suppression
)

but they
may also be for other activities
(
e.g.

cooling or other industrial processes
)
.
Water is also returned to various surface
water stores.

Volumes and quality of water
for
all
uses
should

be identified.

G.

Ta
sks

may

require other water that is not
available from within the extraction and
treatment loops and this is imported from
elsewhere. This water may be from surface,
underground or from another
activity

external to the system boundary
, and
needs to be identified
.

H.

A significant number of flows exist that are
part of the background (baseline) water
flows of any given system. Some of these
flows may be influenced by coal mining or
coal seam gas extraction, others
(
e.g.

precipitation
)

are unlikely to be changed

by
extr
action activities
. Each aquifer has
recharge and discharge, each surface water
store has potential for seepage/recharge,
rainfall interception and evaporation, and
there is a shallow subsurface transition
zone
(hyporheic)
where water may either
pass throug
h and recharge the underlying
aquifers, or may be discharged directly to
the surface water system.

These
interactions and flows need to be
identified.

Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals

Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC

12 February 2013

10

Assessment of likely significant impacts on
water resources

and water
related
assets

The assessment of li
kely significant impacts
should have particular regard to the
impacts

outlined in
the
Committee

Terms
of
Reference
(see section titled
T
erms of
R
eference
)
and
should include but not be limited to
:

1.

a
n assessment of how the proposed
development will change b
oth
local
and
regional water balances

2.

i
n

the case of underground mines
,

predictions of subsidence and effects
from
dewatering and depressurisation (including
lateral effects) on
surface topography,
groundwater and movement of water
across the landscape

and

possible
fracturing of confining layers

3.

t
he aquifers that will be directly impacted
by mining operations, including the
aquifers that will be exposed/partially
removed by open cut mining and/or
underground mining

4.

t
he aquifers that will be dewatered or
indirectly impacted by dewatering in
connected aquifers

5.

t
he extent of impact on hydrological
interactions between water sources

including
surface water/groundwater
connectivity
, inter
-
aquifer connectivity and
connectivity with sea water

6.

f
or open cut mines
,

prediction
s

of the
extent of cone of depression and
consequential impacts on water resources

7.

i
mpacts associated with surface water
diversions

8.

a
ssessment of direct and indirect impacts
on water related assets (aquatic
ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems,
dr
inking water supply

and human health
,
irrigation water supply, surface
infrastructure, industry, regional
communities

and

aquifers)

with reference
to the Australian Guidelines for Water
Quality Monitoring and
Reporting
(
www.environment.gov.au/water/publicati
ons/quality/nwqms
-
monitoring
-
reporting.html
)

9.

i
mpacts on hydraulic properties of aquifer
geology including potential for physical
transmission
of water within and between
formations, effects of depressurisation due
to gas extraction and estimates of
likelihood of leakage of contaminants from
coal beds through geological formations

10.

e
stimates of the quality and quantity of
operational discharges of

water
(particularly saline water)
including
potential emergency discharges due to
unusual events

11.

i
ndication of the vulnerability to
contamination (e.g. from salt production
and salinity) and the likely impacts on the
identified water assets

12.

c
onsideration
of landscape disruption
induced by roadway and pipeline networks
through effects on surface water flow
including erosion and habitat
fragmentation of water dependent species
and communities

13.

a
ssessment of the cumulative impact of
the proposal when all relev
ant
developments (past, present and/or
reasonably foreseeable) are considered in
combination (see section below)

14.

p
roposed mitigation actions for each
identified impact.

Assessment of Risk

An assessment of risk
should be provided

that
could be expected to address the following
elements:



a
n identification of regional water
related

assets

in the area of the proposal and
changes to the regional water
balance that

might be vulnerable
as a result of
the
development proposal



i
dentification of
impacts

on those assets

likely to arise from activities associated
with the proposal



a
n assessment of the likelihood and
consequence

of identified
impacts

occurring and the consequential
effect

on
water bal
ance and water
related

assets



a
n assessment of the magnitude or
severity

of impact in the event that the
impact
was

to occur



a
n assessment of the
overall level of

risk

to those assets that might combine
Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals

Relating to the Development of Coal
Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC

12 February 2013

11

probability of occurrence with
consequence or
severity of impact



a
n assessment of
re
sidual

risk

following the
application of proposed mitigation
measures
.

Assessment of cumulative impacts

The assessment of cumulative impacts needs
to consider all relevant developments (past,
present and/or reasonably foreseeable) to
assess the risks and i
mpacts posed by a single
new
proposal
, in combination

with other
developments.


It is expected that advice on cumulative
impacts
will
be provided by relevant s
tate and
Australian Government

regulators, in addition
to the proponent’s assessment of risk.


This is because the regulators are in the best
position to combine knowledge about total
past, present and future developments,
in
conjunction with

the outcomes of regional
assessments and regional water balance
models, to evaluate the scale of impact with
in
a broader context.


The
Committee

recognises

that there is a need
to further
develop groundwater model
s

to
enable the prediction of cumulative impacts.

This
could

involve
the collation of
geological
and operational data from CSG
and large coal
mining
co
mpanies related to
current and
future
bore production, timing and volumes.
Data from agriculture and
other
mining

activities

would

also be needed to assess
cumulative impacts
, which could be available
from the regulators or bioregional assessments
.


Assess
ments of cumulative impacts may
require a qualitative or semi
-
quantitative
approach, particularly for ecological risk
assessment where data may be lacking.
Assessments may also require consideration of
interactive or synergistic impacts,
as well as

a
more

simple summation of individual proposals
or impacts.

I
nformation should include but not
be limited to:

1.

c
atchment and regional scale information
provided through the bioregional
assessments

(
GIS based
water related
assets, geophysical, hydrological, ecolog
ical
information)

2.

t
otal existing and planned licens
ed and
extracted water for consumptive, industry
and agricultural purposes in the surface
catchment and groundwater basin within
which the proposal is based

3.

e
xisting water quality guidelines, targets

(i
.
e
.

salinity)
, environmental flow
objectives and requirements for the
surface catchment and groundwater basin
within which the proposal is based

4.

t
he proportional increase in water
resource use and impacts as a
consequence of the proposal

5.

a
n

assessment of the overall level of
risk

to
water
related
assets that combine
probability of occurrence with severity of
impact

of multiple actions
.

Ongoing management and monitoring

A plan for the ongoing management and
monitoring of the impact of the dev
elopment
on water resources
would normally be
prepared

and would be expected where there
may be impacts
. Plans should focus in
particular on mitigating, managing and
monitoring risks and assets identified in the
assessment of the project, and be capable of

tracking
changes
against pre
-
development
conditions
.

Management and monitoring plans
should

address all impacts identified through the
assessment where a management regime or
intervention is required to mitigate the risk of a
signifi
cant impact on water
resources.

A groundwater monitoring network should be
established such that there is
sufficient

data to
assess background conditions
,

seasonal
variations and recharge
/
discharge behaviours.

The monitoring program
should

consist of
dedicated groundwater mon
itorin
g bores and
not include uncased test holes or bore holes
where there is no data on aquifers or a drilling
log.


Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals

Relating to the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC

12 February 2013

12

The groundwater monitoring program should
satisfy the following criteria
:



Clearly defined monitoring objectives



Maps should be provided t
o demonstrate
location of bores and their purpose.



Variables

such as water level, electrical
conductivity

(salinity)

and pH, measured at
monthly intervals or daily by data logger,
should

be provided to allow for the
assessment of seasonal variations in
storage and quality.



The
methodology
for

t
he number, location
and placement of monitoring bores and the
outcomes the groundwater monitoring
network
can accurately describe
water
quality and

water level
s over time
.



The monitoring network should have
adequate sites and spatial distribution to
provide an understanding of groundwater
gradients
,

flow directions
, recharge
processes, quality and water levels

in each
aquifer in both the
project

area

and the
surrounding areas where impacts to
groundwater from
project

operations are
likely

to occur
.

The network should include
shallow alluvial aquifers.



The monitoring network
should

extend
beyond the predicted impact areas to
demonstrate/confirm that im
pacts are not
occurring
beyond

these areas.




A f
ull chemical analysis covering all major
ions
should be

undertaken at an
appropriate periodicity
.
Parameters should
be monitored that are relevant to
eco
-
toxicology and human and animal health.
Where the moni
toring bore is located in an
area
vulnerable to
groundwater
contamination from mine impacts
,

additional

parameters such as heavy metals
should

be monitored
.




Drilling logs of all monitoring bores and
accurate co
-
ordinates should be provided.
Where vibratin
g wire piezometers are
installed, depths of each piezometer should
be provided.



All data supplied should be linked to the
aquifer it is representing.



A proposed reporting program should be
provided,
which
includ
es

triggers for
the
review of the program
, cu
rrent

and
additional data,
assessment
, analysis and
reporting requirements.

Water quality monitoring should be managed
in accordance with the relevant
National Water
Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS)
guideline:
Australian Guidelines for Water
Quality Mon
itoring and Reporting

(
www.environment.gov.au/water/publications
/quality/nwqms
-
monitoring
-
reporting.html
)
.


Definitions

For the purpose of the Information Guidelines
:

*
C
oal seam gas development

is defined as any
activity proposed for the purpose of extracting
CSG that is likely to have a significant impact
on water resources, either in its own right or
through its contribution to the cumulative
impact of development activ
ities on water
resources.

*
Large coal mining development

is defined as
proposed coal mine activities that are likely to
have a significant impact on water resources
either in their own right or through their
contribution to the cumulative impact of
develo
pment activities on water.

*
Water resources mean
s
:



surface water or groundwater

or



a

watercourse, lake, wetland or aquifer
(whether or not it currently has water in it);
and includes all aspects of the water
resource (including water, organisms and
other components and ecosystems that
contribute to the physical state and
environmental val
ue of the water resource).

*
Cumulative impact

is defined as the total
impact of CSG and/or large coal mining
developments on water resources when all
such developments (past, present and/or
reasonably foreseeable) are considered.


*
Bioregional assessment

i
s defined as a
scientific analysis of the ecology, hydrology and
geology of a region with explicit reference to
an assessment of the potential direct and
Independent Expert Scientific Committee Information Guidelines for

Proposals

Relating to
the Development of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mines where there is a Significant Impact on Water Resources


IESC

12 February 2013

13

indirect impacts of CSG and coal mining
development on water resources
, including any
impacts of assoc
iated salt production and/or
salinity
.

*
Significant impact
on water resources is
caused by a single action or the cumulative
impact of multiple actions which would directly
or indirectly:

I. result in a substantial change in the quantity,
quality or avail
ability of surface or ground
water

II. substantially alter ground water pressure
and/ or water table levels

III. alter the ecological character of a wetland
that is State significant or a Ramsar wetland

IV. divert or impound rivers or creeks or
substantial
ly alter drainage patterns

V. reduce biological diversity or change species
composition

VI. alter coastal processes, including sediment
movement or accretion, or water circulation
patterns

VII. result in persistent organic chemicals,
heavy metals, or other potentially harmful
chemicals accumulating in the environment
such that biodiversity, ecological integrity,
human health or other community and
economic use may be adversely affected, or

VIII. substantially increase demand for, or
reduce the availability of water for human
consumption.

Water b
alance

model

is defined as a detailed
account of all aspects of the hydrological cycle
at the site or at a regional scale. Components
of the hydrolo
gical cycle include rainfall,
evaporation, surface water and ground water
resources and the movement of water within
and between them. It also incorporates water
quali
ty characteristics and dynamics.

Water
related asset

is a defined value or public
benefit

with a dependence on surface or
groundwater, including water dependent
ecosystems (as defined by the
Australian
Government

Water Act), drinking water,
public
health
,
recreation and
amenity,

indigenous and
cultural values, fisheries, tourism, navigation
,
a
griculture and industry

values.

Vulnerable Asset
is a

water
related

asset
for
which CSG or large coal mining development is
likely to have a significant impact, as defined
by the

terms of reference of the
Committee
.

*
Definitions
marked with an asterix
appear in

the
National Partnership Agreement.



IESC 12 February

2013


1

Independent Expert Scientific Committee

on Coal Seam Gas and

Large Coal Mining

REQUEST FOR ADVICE CHECKLIST


1.

Summary Details

Project Information


Description

Project Title

Project name

Date of Request

Date

Requesting
Organisation

Name
of the requesting organi
s
ation (
the Regulator
)

EPBC Act Referral

Reference

(referral number, type
-

if EPBC referral)

Advice Stage

Stage of EIS process

at which request has been made

Request Details

Background to the referral and adv
ice that is sought from the
Committee

Proponent Details

Proponent
n
ame

Website

Links

Links to web sites, including
proponent website and documents

Public Submissions

Summary of public submissions


2.

Project Description

Project Information


Description

Project Location

Overview of project location including geographical
,

geologic, river
basin
/
catchment, hydro
-
geological basin

Project Description

Brief project description

Project Type

Type of
project th
at is being proposed (e.g. n
ew project or
extension
)

and type of operation (
CSG,
l
arge coal mine
)

Resource

Geologic/ hydro
-
carbon
resource that will be targeted

Operation Area

Information
to define the extent of the operation

Establishment
Act
ivities

Relevant activities required to establish
the proposed project

Operation Details

How the projec
t operations will be undertaken operationally

Lifetime

Lifetime of the project

Residual Site
Condition

Expected site condition after decommissioning

and p
roposed
monitoring regime

Site Rehabilitation

Outline of planned site rehabilitation works





IESC 12 February

2013



2

3.

Regional Water Balance Model

Project Information

Description

Regional Overview

Proponent’s region
al and site water balance model

Regional
Groundwater

Regional groundwater description

Regional Surface
Water

Regional surface water description


Data Uncertainties /
Data Integrity Issues

Level of certainty/uncertainty with respect to the inform
ation
provided


4.

Local Water Balance Model incorporating the
Site

Project Information

Description

Site Overview

Pre
-
development baseline water resources

Local and Site
Groundwater
Overview

Local groundwater description

Local and Site
Surface Water
Overview

Local surface water description

Data Uncertainties /
Data Integrity Issues

Level of certainty/uncertainty with respect to the information
provided


5.

Impacts

of Development

Project Information

Description

Groundwater
Impacts from Project
Activities

Impacts to regional, local and site groundwater

Surface
Water
Impacts from Project
Activities

Impacts to surface water

Landform and Land
-
use Change Impacts
from Project
Activities

Changes
and impacts
to landform, geomorphology and land
-
use

Water Related
Assets of National
Environmental
Significance

Relevant
impacts to
water related Matters of Nation
al
Environmental Significance

for

surface and groundwater




IESC 12 February

2013



3

Impacts on Other
Water Related
Assets

Assessment of direct and indirect impacts on other water related
assets


Data Uncertainties /
Data Integrity Issu
es

Level of certainty/uncertainty with respect to the information
provided


6.

Water Related Ri
sk Assessment

Project Information

Description

Risk Assessment
Overview

Overview of
Risk Assessment method that
has been used

Risk Assessment

Assessment of the
overall level of risk to water balance and water
related assets

Mitigation Measures

Proposed mitigation measures to address potential

risks and/
or
impacts

Residual Risks

Mitigation measures that have been provided for residual risk
(including monitoring
and reporting)


7.

Cumulative Impacts

Project Information

Description

Regional Overview

Summary of CSG and large coal mine developments within the
region.
Catchment and regional scale information provided through
the bioregional assessments or other
relevant assessments

Cumulative Risk
Assessment

Cumulative risk assessment
of the proposal
, considering all
relevant developments.
Assessment of the overall cumulative level
of risk to water related asset
s