Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Newman Government’s Water Act amendments: Part 4 - Stream diversions

by George Houen
McArthur River Diversion, July 2010 © MPI / 2010
McArthur River Mine, photo sourced [here] 

Stream Diversions 

Setting the miners free to dewater as much as they like and without any prior impact assessment is  not consistent with the Bill’s treatment of miners’ authority to divert surface water in streams, which currently also requires a water licence. Under the amended section 98 of the Water Act they may only divert a stream if the particular diversion and its impacts were assessed as part of the grant of an environmental authority and a condition of the authority allows it.  


It should be permissible that objections against an environmental authority or its conditions (including any Coordinator General’s conditions) may include objections against a proposed stream diversion.

First Refusal for Affected Landholders 

Under the Bill’s clause 334Z of the MR Act, the miner may use the associated water for any purpose anywhere. This could result, for example, in groundwater which the bore owner is entitled to and is relying upon, being taken and used by the miner off lease for a non-mining purpose, or sold to someone else for a non-mining purpose.  


Where the dewatering produces associated water in excess of a miner’s requirements for the mining purposes, the miner should be required to treat the surplus by reverse osmosis, then give all potentially affected landholders first right of refusal to take the treated water for their own use, at no cost.


A template make good agreement (which is readily adapted for either mining or CSG) is available from landholder Services. It was first adopted at the Callide Mine some 6 years ago and has been subjected to extensive review since. Provisions for baseline testing, monitoring and setting of trigger levels in the original agreement have operated satisfactorily. 

 George Houen
Landholder Services Pty Ltd
13 Cottesloe Street
Qld 4350
Phone 07 4632 1024
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