Water Journal : Water Journal August 2015
AUGUST 2015 water 9 CrossCurrent Queensland The Queensland Government’s 2015–16 Budget includes $52.1 million for much-needed drought relief for primary producers. Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Bill Byrne, said the greatest challenge currently facing the sector was the prolonged drought across much of the state. “The State Government is responding to the most widespread drought on record,” Mr Byrne said. “More than 80 per cent of Queensland is drought declared, covering 32 entire local government areas and three part local government areas.” New South Wales The Australian Government has partnered with the New South Wales Government to deliver more investment to ensure water savings for the state’s Great Artesian Basin, one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world. As a result of a new agreement, New South Wales will be eligible to receive a share of almost $16 million to help assist landholders rehabilitate remaining free-flowing bores in the state. NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water, Niall Blair, has announced the formation of DPI Water, in line with a new direction for managing water in NSW. Mr Blair said DPI Water will replace the former NSW Office of Water and will continue to remain within the Department of Primary Industries. “This is more than just a name change – it’s about a renewed focus on how water is managed, and DPI Water will lead this fresh approach,” Mr Blair said. Hydrogeologist Dr Richard Cresswell has told farmers at a conference in Sydney that the Santos coal seam gas operation in the Pilliga is no threat to the water resource there. Dr Cresswell, formerly of CSIRO, sits on the Federal Government’s expert advisory committee on large coal seam gas projects and was the lead scientist on a CSIRO study of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). He is employed by Jacobs Engineering, and his presentation at the conference was sponsored by that company. Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, has announced the independent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has begun its new role as the state’s sole authority responsible for compliance and enforcement of all non-work, health and safety consent conditions for gas exploration and production activities. Mr Roberts said the NSW Liberals & Nationals Governments outlined the EPA’s new lead role under Action 7 of the NSW Gas Plan. Environment Minister, Mark Speakman, said $6.8 million has been allocated in 2015–16 to support the EPA’s new role. For more information visit: www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au AGL Energy Limited has resumed the transportation of flowback water from its Waukivory Pilot, part of the Gloucester Gas Project in NSW, for lawful offsite treatment and disposal. AGL has engaged Toxfree Solutions, one of Australia’s major waste management service providers, to transport and treat flowback water at its licensed facility, and subsequently lawfully dispose of the treated water. The flowback water will be taken to Toxfree’s Narangba plant in Brisbane’s north for treatment to the standards set by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Toxfree’s trade waste agreement. Removal and treatment of the water is expected to take approximately three months. AGL remains in discussion with other waste disposal service providers for options to treat the flowback water and dispose of treated water in New South Wales. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has begun its review of prices that the NSW Office of Water can charge for the monopoly water management services it delivers on behalf of the Water Administration Ministerial Corporation, the legal entity responsible for water management in NSW. The current determination set prices for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2014. In this review, IPART will set prices to apply from 1 July 2016. Stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission in response to the Issues paper. Submissions are due by 9 October 2015 and can be lodged through the IPART website. Significant levels of strong painkillers and anti-depressants have been found in tests conducted on water samples in Sydney Harbour. The drugs were found by analysing samples of marine water from 30 sites adjacent to stormwater outlets across the entire Sydney estuary. Scientist Gavin Birch from the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney said it was the first time this kind of research had been done in Australia. Other drugs found across Sydney Harbour waters included beta blockers and an epilepsy medication. Mr Birch said the findings indicated sewage water may be leaking into the harbour. MidCoast Water is assessing the merits of developing a major new dam, desalination or water recycling plant by 2030. As part of a regular strategic review, such water infrastructure projects are being considered as ways to secure the Manning-Great Lakes water supply in the short- to-medium term. The water authority said it must ensure water security for coming generations. Acting General Manager Brendan Guiney said public feedback is being sought regarding different options as part of the ‘Our Future, Our Water’ strategic review. Sydney Water says households will save about $100 each year for four years from July 2016, as part of its pricing plan released recently. Sydney Water’s proposal, lodged with The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), seeks to reduce customer bills while still delivering high quality services, enhance customer engagement to better align services to meet customer expectations, and modernise regulation to deliver better outcomes for customers. Hunter Water will invest $1.1 billion into better infrastructure during the next 10 years in the Hunter, to support the increase in the region’s population to one million people by 2050. “The Hunter region is growing and it is important we put in place the right water infrastructure to cater for that population growth,” Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair said. The 10-year infrastructure program is detailed in Hunter Water’s 2016–20 price submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), in which the utility has recommended household water prices rise by no more than inflation.
Water Journal June 2015
Water Journal September 2015