Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment releases ‘Underground Water Impact Report 2021 for the Surat Cumulative Management Area’

The Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) has released the Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) 2021 for the Surat Cumulative Management Area (Surat CMA). A UWIR for a CMA is a statutory report that provides:

  1. an assessment of cumulative impacts from existing and proposed groundwater extraction by resource tenure holders (i.e. associated water);
  2. proactive strategies for managing those impacts (i.e. make good of water bores, monitoring strategy and impact mitigation strategies for affected springs); and
  3. assignment of responsibilities to individual tenure holders to implement strategies.

OGIA released the consultation draft of the Surat UWIR 2021 on 29 October 2021 and sought submissions from tenure holders, bore owners and the public.

OGIA considered all submissions in finalising the report before submitting for approval to the Department of Environment and Science (DES) on 17 December 2021, together with a summary report summarising the issues raised on the consultation draft and how OGIA addressed those issues in finalising the report.

The final report has now been released, with the Surat UWIR 2021 report taking effect from 1 May 2022.

Importantly, the Surat UWIR 2021 contains findings from OGIA’s comprehensive assessment of potential subsidence occurring in highly cultivated, priority agricultural areas – the first research of its kind undertaken in relation to CSG activity and a significant body of work that the GasFields Commission contributed to.

Who are the GasFields Commission Queensland?

Established as an independent statutory body in 2013, the Commission’s purpose is to manage and improve the sustainable coexistence of landholders, regional communities and the onshore gas industry in Queensland. The Commission manages sustainable coexistence in petroleum and gas producing regions of Queensland, and will continue to do so as the industry expands into new and emerging basins.

Our vision is to achieve thriving communities in areas of gas development that are free from discord and supported by well-informed, respectful and balanced stakeholder relationships.

One way the Commission is endeavouring to realise this vision is by providing transparency and independent assurances that the onshore gas industry is appropriately regulated and held to account when needed. This in turn will help cultivate sustainable coexistence, whilst ensuring community and landholder confidence in the regulators and gas industry increases.

Drawing on its wealth of experience in the development of the gas industry and by collaborating with other relevant entities, the Commission provides a range of support to communities and landholders, primarily through education and engagement. These education and engagement activities occur with individual landholders via Commission facilitated webinars, information sessions, publications (The Gas Guide, Shared Landscapes Reports), face-to-face meetings and public workshops.

It should be noted that the Commission does not engage in individual negotiations between landholders and gas companies, but rather provides communities and landholders with the information and support they need to make informed decisions and achieve good outcomes.