Correspondence with the Water Minister over Elfin Crossing

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Due to the water concerns for the community and environment, the MCCC has written twice (17.4.2018, 25.6.2018) to Niall Blair, the NSW Water Minister, seeking a “Temporary Water Restriction Order in the Maules Creek area that includes all groundwater extraction by the Maules Creek coal mine”.

On the 25th of May 2018, the Minister has responded through the Deputy Secretary of Lands and Water that the “Department of Industry (DoI) – Water to review the current conditions in Maules Creek and to provide advice as to any appropriate management actions that can be made under the Water Management Act 2000.”

Meanwhile groundwater levels continue to plummet, as the below graph from the Elfin Crossing Groundwater Monitoring Station and the above photos taken only 1 month apart show. The drain on the aquifer hasn’t stopped.

 

Temporary Water Restrictions have been used in the past to prevent extraction of water in the public interest and we have argued that it is in the public interest to stop large scale water extraction to protect the local community and the groundwater dependent ecosystems that rely on the alluvial aquifer.

Climate forecasts of low winter rainfall and a 60% possibility of a El Nino event in the summer with further low rainfall and high temperatures are a major concern. It would be disastrous if the mine were to pump out all the remaining groundwater reserves that stock and domestic water users and the groundwater dependent ecosystems rely upon. Now is the time to implement a Temporary Water Restriction Order.

The Department of Planning Compliance Division also has an inquiry under way. The Inquiry Report is very important because the Maules Creek mine approval is the first of the “Adaptive Management” style approvals that could be used for Shenhua Watermark and Santos Narrabri Gas Project. Adaptive Management requires detailed reporting and a operational response when the environment changes.

We know Elfin is no longer running – now we are waiting for the adaptive management bit to kick in.