Labor releases the NSW Government’s Aquifer Interference Policy: O’Farrell proposes reinjecting coal seam gas wastewater into our water supply


The NSW Labor Opposition has today released the O'Farrell Government's aquifer interference policy – which proposes reinjecting Coal Seam Gas wastewater into rivers, aquifers and even the potable water supply.

The policy also exempts certain large scale mining and CSG developments from going through the aquifer interference approval process and allows controversial CSG evaporation ponds to be established.

Shadow Minister for Water, Luke Foley said the draft plan – which the O'Farrell Government has refused to release to the public - is at complete odds with their pre-election commitments.

"The O'Farrell Government has betrayed local farming communities and broken its promise to protect the environment and local water supplies from the impacts of Coal Seam Gas extraction," said Mr Foley.

"Under Barry O'Farrell, wastewater from Coal Seam Gas operations will be redirected into rivers, aquifers and even our drinking water supply.

"This means the community could potentially be asked to drink treated Coal Seam Gas wastewater that has been injected into the potable water supply and aquifers.

"The biggest mines in the State will be specifically excluded from having to obtain aquifer interference approvals, despite iron clad promises before the election that all proponents would have to comply with the new regime.

"Evaporation ponds - which the O'Farrell Government promised to ban prior to the election – have been renamed 'temporary holding ponds' and will be permitted across NSW.

"Each of these decisions represents a major breach of faith with the people who elected Barry O'Farrell to office – particularly in regional NSW."

Mr Foley said one of the most disturbing aspects of the policy is that fracking could be allowed to take place without any aquifer interference approvals.

"Fracking involves injecting water and toxic chemicals into the ground to release Coal Seam Gas and can have a direct impact on ground water and aquifers," said Mr Foley.

"It is absurd that fracking will be exempt from environmental checks and balances under the O'Farrell Government's aquifer interference policy."

Acting Shadow Minister for Resources and Primary Industries, Mick Veitch: "Before the election the O'Farrell Government promised to protect the water supply, protect the food bowl, ban evaporation ponds and require all Coal Seam Gas mines to go through a process to prove that their mining will not affect local aquifers."

"These commitments are now in tatters. The Liberals and Nationals should scrap this draft plan – and start again by honouring their pre-election promises to farmers and communities across the State."