Mining companies allocated massive volumes of water for free

Conservation Council of Western Australia26th October, 2011Water allocation finally being reviewed. Conservation Council of Western Australia’s, Director, Piers Verstegen said, “It is encouraging that the State Government have recognised the limitations of their current approach of ‘first come, first served’ water allocation, which is a major barrier to sustainable water use in Western Australia. The review must lead to new policies that prioritise the environment and sustainable food production before mining.

“It’s a crazy policy approach that sees mining companies allocated massive volumes of water for free, at the expense of the environment, agriculture and food production.

“In a state where we are so heavily dependent on our groundwater, we need a much more sophisticated approach to deciding what our precious water will be used for.

Recent water allocation decisions, such as the allocation of 87% of the Parmelia Aquifer to a Mid-West mining company to wash iron ore, do not reflect a sustainable approach to water use and must not be allowed to continue.”

“Western Australia’s water shortages are set to worsen due to the impacts of climate change – rather than allocating all our precious groundwater to mining companies for low value activities we need to prepare for a drying climate by ensuring that the environment and food production are top priorities when it comes to water allocation.”

Mr. Verstegen said that the review should not only consider future water allocations, but should also review existing water use by the mining industry, including the various State Agreement Acts that make many mining operations exempt from normal water allocation policies.

“For example, the coal industry is using water from Collie aquifers at two thousand times the sustainable yield according to the Department of Water, while at the same time contributing to our drying climate through carbon pollution.

“The review must also consider the very real threats to groundwater resources from planned gas fracking activities across much of the state.

“Water used or contaminated by gas fracking and coal mining must be reigned in if we are to provide sustainable water for food production and communities in Western Australia in the future.”