Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Water and the Resource Industry: Protecting Your Future

Think about your property – where does your water come from?  Dams?  Bores?  River?  A combination of those?  You might be one of those farmers or graziers that rely heavily on underground water sources as part of your day-to-day operations.  Have you ever considered what would happen if that underground water suddenly dried up? 

How can I protect my water supplies from coal mining or coal seam gas activities?
Coal Mining and CSG both extract huge volumes of ground water as part of their activities.  The closer you are to this activity, the higher the chance your water sources will be effected.  It is important that before a resource company starts their activities, both parties are aware of and agree on the current state of the water sources - current capacity, standing water levels, water quality etc.  This is usually called baseline data.   This information should be prepared by someone who has the relevant expertise.  It may be beneficial if the person collecting the information is independent of both you and the resource company, such as a hydro geologist or other expert.

You should also consider entering into what is called a “make good” agreement with the resource company.  This will cover ongoing monitoring of the water source, comparison with the baseline data, the identification of trigger levels for when a water source is considered impaired and what will happen if it is proven that the activities of a resource company have caused the decrease or loss of water.  A well drafted “make good” agreement will also include a provision for the refund of any fees paid by you for preparation of the agreement. 

If you would like any further information or have any questions regarding make good agreements or water agreements, please give Amy Gudmann, Andrew Palmer or Justin Houlihan at Rees R & Sydney Jones a call on (07) 4927 6333.  We can provide you with advice on a “make good” agreement to ensure that your business and your livelihood are protected.