Chief Scientist & Engineer releases Catchment cumulative impact study

30 May 2014

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Mary O'Kane has released a report addressing cumulative impacts of activities in the Sydney Water Catchment.

This report was requested by the NSW Government in response to concerns about impacts on the Catchment from activities, such as long wall mining and coal seam gas extraction.

The Review brought together acknowledged experts in a range of relevant disciplines to examine the question of cumulative impacts on water quantity and water quality.

They determined while it's not currently possible to get a detailed understanding of cumulative impacts on water quantity, contemporary treatment processes are sufficient to protect the quality of Sydney's drinking water against any adverse impact.

"To get a better understanding of the cumulative impacts I have recommended the Government create a whole-of-Catchment data repository, and that will enable better modelling of the cumulative impacts of activities, such as CSG extraction and long wall mining," Professor O'Kane said.

The Review found no evidence to suggest current activities in the Catchment should be halted at this time.

"The current cautionary approach by government agencies seems to be preventing development that could cause obvious disastrous cumulative impacts, and therefore there is no reason to stop long wall mining immediately," she said.

Professor O'Kane's report to Government, "Measuring the cumulative impacts of all activities which impact ground and surface water in the Sydney Water Catchment", can be viewed in full here.

Pictured above: Professor Mary O'Kane inspects the Catchment 'Special Areas' south of Sydney.