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News & Blog Posts · Energy & Climate

Have your say: groundwater too precious to waste

07 November, 2016

Queensland's parliament will soon vote on the Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (EPOLA Bill) and the Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (WLA Bill). Today's the last day to have your say.


Let your State parliamentarians know that you think that our water resources are too precious to waste without proper scrutiny about the likely impacts to farmers and the ecologies dependent on them – we need groundwater licensing for major mines and community appeal rights to stay in the EPOLA Bill, and for both Bills to pass.

Please urgently contact the following politicians to express your support for the Bill:

Let them know:

1) You support passage of the Bills – both Bills must be passed in at least their current form; these Bills are the bare minimum, our farmers and environment cannot afford for the Bills to be weakened.

2) The EPOLA Bill is essential for improving groundwater impact assessment, and ensuring mines currently being assessed do not fall through the gaps with the statutory right to associated water without a licence set to commence in December, by requiring them to get a transitional ‘associated water licence’.

3) Ideally, the associated water licence should be strengthen so that it is assessed against principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), such as the precautionary principle, as applies to every other water licence assessment. There is too much uncertainty around how impacts affect our groundwater basins to not assess impacts posed against the principles of ESD.

3) The Bill must ensure that the Coordinator-General cannot use his powers to interfere with the assessment of the new associated water licences introduced through this Bill (nor for any other water licence application for an advanced mining project). This may affect the integrity of the assessment of water impacts through fast tracking approvals without adequate time for assessment. For more information on this – see here.

4) The WLA Bill is essential as it re-introduces the principles of ESD back into the assessment of water licences (but not for associated water licences), removes the guaranteed right to water for large operators prior to full assessment, and removes the ability to deregulate use of a watercourse.

As a matter of principle - no resource company should get free, unlimited access to groundwater, it is risky to the environment and unfair to other water users. So the proposal to create a ‘statutory right to take groundwater’ for mining companies is opposed. A licence should always be required prior to water being taken or interfered with, with public submission and appeal rights to a Court with powers of final determination.

But the government is at least trying to address some impacts of the statutory right to associated water and other risky elements introduced through the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014, to protect landholder rights, our precious groundwater resources and the ecologies dependent on them.

Please contact your local MP and support the need for these two Bills to be passed!

The key reason to vote for these Bills is that Australia is a very dry land and our water, and especially groundwater, is a precious and irreplaceable resource that is essential for so much agricultural production in Queensland. Massive open cut coal mines slice through the earth and put at risk millions of litres of priceless groundwater. Groundwater and other water resources also support fragile ecosystems.

EDO Qld have busted some of the myths being spread about the EPOLA Bill - check it out here!

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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