Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Proposed mining rules put Sydney’s water supply at risk

The proposed requirements for mining applications that the NSW Government released yesterday[1] will fail to protect our water supplies.  These requirements include the replacement of existing protections for upland swamps with an offsetting process that allows these swamps, a vital part of our water supply catchments, to be damaged. 

Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness believes this swamp offset proposal will have serious implications for water supply security.

“The proposed offset requirements boil down to offering money for the rare, endangered and nationally listed upland swamps that are being undermined in our ‘protected’ drinking water catchments.  These swamps are essential to maintenance of stream flows in dry weather and are destroyed by longwall coal mining[2]”, he said.

“Who cares if mining companies provide financial compensation for ruined swamps!  It can’t bring back essential water supplies!  When there is the next big drought Sydney won’t want a tiny bit of conscience money, it will want more water,” he said.

“When a swamp is undermined, the rock beneath cracks and this fracturing causes a significant amount of water to drain away, reducing water flows downstream.  The importance of these swamps as significant water stores is evident from their extent in our water catchments.”

“The proposal to offset upland swamps damaged by coal mining is a perversion of the protection that must be applied to our drinking water catchments.  Sydney’s founders had the foresight to absolutely protect our Metropolitan catchments located to the south of the city.  Now this Government wants to allow these irreplaceable assets to be ruined, as long as a few dollars in conscience money are provided”, said Mr Muir.

“Last year the NSW Government abolished the Sydney Catchment Authority set up in 1998 to ensure adequate catchment management after potentially lethal bugs cryptosporidium and giardia contaminated the city’s water supply.  Having removed its defender, it now proposes to remove effective catchment protection,” he said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

[1] http://planspolicies.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=7086

2 NSW Scientific Committee, Alteration of habitat following subsidence due to longwall mining - key threatening process declaration, 2005

 

[2] NSW Scientific Committee, Alteration of habitat following subsidence due to longwall mining - key threatening process declaration, 2005