Water Journal : Water Journal August 2013
WATER AUGUST 2013 2From the President WHERE WATER AND GAS MIX Graham Dooley -- AWA President I am always amazed when I read about the harvesting of gas from under the ground and deep under the ocean. Over the millennia, why hasn't all this gas leaked out before we could discover it? But there it is, in staggering quantities, for those countries fortunate enough to have it. And Australia is one of those 'lucky countries'. The recent AWA Seminar Series on Unconventional Gas that was offered around Australia gave a clear insight into the successful harvesting of this gas and the challenges to our water systems that go with it. Our thanks go to co- host/convenor, the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, and the learned presenters for delivering this event in multiple locations. From the Seminar I attended, I learned that coal seam gas is quite shallow -- only a few hundred metres deep -- and is extracted from 'pockets' in the coal mass. 'Tight' gas and shale gas are, on the other hand, thousands of metres deep and the gas is bound up tightly in the sand and in the shale matrix respectively. The mining of this gas will only be successful if the impacts on water are properly managed. Australia needs to protect its groundwater resources from contamination to sustain the natural environment, rivers and populations that depend on it. Our agricultural, mining, and other industries all need to be integrated into a sustainable economic model with shared access to our water resources. Therefore, sound management of the water issues by the gas companies is essential. The lessons our industry has learned from dealing with dif cult issues in the urban and irrigation water cycles, such as the securing of Perth's water supply through multiple parallel solutions and the development of the irrigation water trading solutions in our rivers (among others), are extremely relevant to this emerging gas industry. AWA is playing its role by developing a set of policy papers in this eld that support its mission "to foster knowledge, understanding and advancement in sustainable water management". I'm sure we will see the gas companies and their consultants and contractors playing increasing roles in the water industry and in AWA. This is very welcome. Meanwhile I see four key opportunities emerging for AWA members, both individual and corporate: 1. There will be plenty of scienti c, engineering, contracting, regulatory, legal and commercial work to be implemented as the CSG industry develops. 2. A substantial amount of water is brought to the surface in the initial years of production of each CSG well. The productive use of this water needs to be a key objective for the industry. 3. The separation and proper management of the salts in this water is going to need innovation of the kind we have shown in other challenging water issues over the years. 4. There is a valuable body of knowledge as to how to manage the water aspect of this gas industry that is exportable to other nations through our consultants, contractors, researchers and training institutions. We have a lot of expertise in this area to sell overseas. I am keen to see Aussie know-how lead the world in new elds of water management such as those relating to the CSG industry. AWA members are well positioned to contribute to the solutions needed -- and to bene t from the outcomes that can be achieved.
Water Journal June 2013
Water Journal September 2013