Water use by Extractive Industry - EDOA submission

Inquiry into water use by the extractive industry - EDOs of Australia submission

December 2017 - Download PDF

Communities, scientists and conservationists across Australia continue to express concern about the impacts of extractive industry on water and the environment. This concern is widespread largely due to extent of extractive industries across nearly all states and territories of Australia and the relatively weak regulation of this industry.

In addition to the high level of community concern about environmental impacts, there is also a general perception that the regulatory frameworks that govern water use by the extractive industry across Australia jurisdictions are failing to protect the interests of other water users, now and in the future; and failing to fairly and adequately economically value the impacts of the extractive industry on water. These issues are exacerbated by legislation that confers broad discretion on decision-makers to determine how environmental and social impacts will be assessed, and whether or not high-impact extractive projects should be approved.

EDOA has written extensively on risks to ecologically sustainable water management in Australia. In this submission we respond to each of the Terms of Reference (ToR) namely:

A. The social, economic and environmental impacts of extractive projects’ take and use of water

B. Existing safeguards in place to prevent the damage, contamination or draining of Australia’s aquifers and water systems

C. Any gaps in the regulatory framework which may lead to adverse social, economic or environmental outcomes, as a result of the take and use of water by extractive projects;

D. Any difference in the regulatory regime surrounding the extractive industry’s water use, and that of other industries;

E. The effectiveness of the ‘water trigger’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 , and the value in expanding the ‘trigger’ to include other projects, such as shale and tight gas.

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