The Nature Conservation Council has called on the new board of the Sydney Catchment Management Authority to rule out coal seam gas development in the city’s drinking water catchment once and for all.
‘The five big drinking water catchments managed and protected by the Sydney Catchment Authority are covered wholly or partially by current CSG exploration licences,’ Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Pepe Clarke, said.
‘If these were to be developed they would pose a serious threat to catchments that supply water to two-thirds of the people in NSW.
‘Fracking and storage of water extracted as part of the pumping process are very risky. Large volumes of contaminated water are stored in holding ponds that have in other areas burst or overflowed, releasing their contaminants into the environment.
‘Revelations in the media today that the incoming chairman of the Sydney Catchment Management Authority is a former director of two of Australia’s largest mining companies are deeply troubling.
‘The appointment of Mark Bethwaite, a former Liberal Party treasurer and former director of mining companies North Limited and Renison Goldfields has the potential to undermine public confidence in the board’s ability to resist intense industry pressure to develop coal seam gas resources in Sydney’s drinking water catchments.
‘The only way to restore public confidence in this body is for the board to publicly rule out CSG development in any Special Catchment Areas and for Premier Barry O’Farrell to deliver on his pre-election promise to prohibit mining in water catchment areas.’
Mr O’Farrell said before his government’s election last year that ‘The next Liberal-National Government will ensure that mining cannot occur, in any water catchment area, and will ensure that mining leases and mining exploration permits reflect that common sense; no ifs, no buts, a guarantee.’
Mr Clarke said the government must maintain and strengthen the Sydney Catchment Authority’s mining principles, including:
- Mining and coal seam gas activities must not cause a reduction in the quantity of surface and groundwater inflows to storages or loss of water from storages or their catchments
- Mining and coal seam gas activities must not cause a reduction in the quality of surface and groundwater inflows to storages
- Mining and coal seam gas activities must not pose increased risks to human health from using water from the drinking water catchments
- The ecological integrity of the Special Areas must be maintained and protected
’The NSW planning system review that is occurring now must place drinking water catchments off limits,’ Mr Clarke said.