Cumulative Management Area
Under the Water Act 2000 (Water Act), a cumulative management area (CMA) can be declared if an area contains two or more resource tenures, including tenures on which coal seam gas (CSG) and mining activities operate, and where there may be cumulative impacts on groundwater resulting from water extraction by the tenure holders.
A CMA may be declared for the following types of resource tenures:
- two or more petroleum and gas tenures
- two or more mining tenures
- two or more mining and petroleum and gas tenures.
Why declare a Cumulative Management Area?
Declaring a CMA enables assessment of future impacts using a regional modelling approach and the development of management responses—such as monitoring programs—that are relevant to the potential cumulative impacts. It also enables responsibilities to be assigned, through the approved underground water impact report, to each tenure holder in the area for monitoring, bore and baseline assessments, and negotiating make good arrangements.
A CMA is declared by the chief executive of the department under the Water Act.
When a CMA has been declared, the department will publish a map of the CMA on its website. Resource tenure holders who hold tenure within the CMA will also be sent a notice about the declaration of the CMA.
The rights of bore owners within a CMA are not affected by the declaration. If a private water bore has or is likely to have an impaired capacity within or outside the CMA as a result of water extraction by resource tenure holders, the resource tenure holder is obliged to make good that impairment.
The role of the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment
The management of groundwater in CMAs is overseen and coordinated by the independent Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA).
For each CMA, the OGIA is required to produce an Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) which will include:
- a prediction of impacts on water levels
- a water monitoring program
- a spring impact management strategy
- an assignment of responsibilities to individual resource tenure holders to undertake water management activities in the area.
The OGIA will consult with resource tenure holders, bore owners and the public on the development of an UWIR for the CMA.
Surat Cumulative Management Area
The Surat Basin and the Southern Bowen Basin contain petroleum and gas (including CSG) and coal mining operations.
CSG activities occur in the Walloon Coal measures of the Surat Basin and in the Bandana and Cattle Creek formations of the Southern Bowen Basin. Conventional petroleum and gas activities are undertaken in a number of Surat and Bowen Basin formations including the Precipice and Showground Sandstones.
The Surat CMA was declared in 2011 after consideration of:
- the location of petroleum and gas operations
- the geology of the area
- the potential for interconnectivity between aquifers in the area
- the cumulative impacts of water extraction by petroleum tenure holders.
In December 2016, the underground water management framework in the Water Act was expanded to include mining tenures. The OGIA advised that coal mining and CSG developments target the same coal formation in the Surat and Clarence Moreton basins and impacts are likely to overlap.
In January 2020, the Surat CMA was amended to include coal mining tenures located within the Surat and Clarence Moreton basins.
The amended CMA was declared following community consultation and in consideration of:
- the location of coal mining operations
- the cumulative impact of water extraction by petroleum and mining tenure holders.
Transitional provisions for existing mines no longer apply when the tenure is in a CMA.
The Surat CMA is identified in the attached map .
Approved Surat Cumulative Management Area Underground Water Impact Report
On 2 August 2019, the OGIA submitted the third UWIR for the Surat CMA (Surat UWIR) to the department. The Surat UWIR was approved with conditions on 12 November 2019, and took effect on 16 December 2019. You can view the approved Surat UWIR here.
Under the approved Surat UWIR, immediately affected areas are predicted in three CSG target formations—the Walloon Coal Measures, the Bandana Formation and the Cattle Creek Formation. Immediately affected areas are also predicted in the Springbok Sandstone and to a lesser extent the Hutton Sandstone. There is also an immediately affected area in the Precipice Sandstone.
Under the approved Surat UWIR, petroleum tenure holders are responsible for:
- undertaking bore assessments within 60 business days of the UWIR taking effect for bores located in the immediately affected area
- entering into make good agreements with bore owners within 40 business days of the bore assessment being undertaken
- implementing a water monitoring strategy
- implementing a spring impact mitigation strategy.
Additional information about the Surat UWIR can be found on the OGIA’s website.
OGIA will liaise with mining tenure holders to account for the cumulative impacts from coal mines in an amendment to the Surat UWIR.
Tenures that are located partly within and partly outside the cumulative management area
If an identified resource tenure is located partially within and partially outside the CMA, the chief executive may decide whether the tenure is wholly in or not in the CMA. This decision will be informed through advice from OGIA, and whether the impacts of the tenure are overlapping with other resource tenures within the CMA.
If a resource tenure holder becomes aware that their tenure is located partially within and partially outside a CMA, it should contact the department’s Energy and Extractive Resources Business Centre on phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68).