Water produced by the Coal Seam Gas industry is a valuable resource that is often misunderstood.
In many cases Coal Seam Gas water is exactly the same water that farmers have been using for limited irrigation or stock water for decades.
It is only because it is officially classified as a by-product of gas production that it is called produced water or CSG water.
In theory, if you had a gas well and a water bore side-by-side taking water from the same aquifer, one would be called a water resource and the other one produced water.
Many landholders and local councils are taking full advantage of this unusual situation and using CSG water supplied by gas companies for stock, irrigation (as shown in the photograph), construction, dust suppression and a range of other uses.
In many cases it is being supplied free of charge to landholders and councils.
It is not “wasted” as many people seem to believe.
Some companies such as Origin treat the water and then pump it back into natural aquifers for re-use by the community and others like QGC treat it and pump it back into river systems to supplement water reserves for agriculture and public consumption.
The quality of that water is carefully managed primarily by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Irrigation water is required to meet a universal standard that applies to all water used for irrigation.
The quality of water for stock is governed by an Australian and New Zealand (ANZECC) agreed international standard and general use categories are broken down to a simple list.
The impact of produced water is carefully monitored by the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment.
That makes water in the gas fields one of the most carefully managed and regulated water resources in the country.