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Underground layers of coal, called coal seams, contain large quantities of water. The pressure of this water holds natural gas found underground to the surface of coal particles.
In order to access the gas, wells are drilled into the coal seams, bringing water from the coal seams to the surface. This process reduces pressure and allows the gas to be released.
While extracting water from coal seams is essential for coal seam gas (CSG) production, protecting underground water resources and ensuring landholders and communities have access to good quality underground water is vital.
The government has a regulatory framework in place to ensure CSG production does not contaminate Queensland’s underground water resources (like the Great Artesian Basin), water supplies accessed via property bores are maintained, and the potential impact on groundwater fed springs is managed.
This includes stipulating actions CSG operators must take to manage predicted water level or pressure drops and impacts on aquifers, through to banning the use of certain chemicals in the fraccing process.
The government also has regulations for the management of CSG water, or water extracted from the coal seams during production. After being extracted the water must be treated to suitable standards, and regulations apply to its management and use—whether disposed of, re-injected into aquifers or used for supplies.