Despite water flow having no regard for borders, the Great Artesian Basin is managed by three states and the Northern Territory as a local water resource.
The current NSW Great Artesian Basin Water Sharing Plan expires on 1 July 2020 and Water in NSW, part of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, has prepared a draft replacement plan.
This week the department held public meetings in Moree, Bourke, Lightning Ridge and Coonamble, as part of the public exhibition phase.
Questions about the impacts from the proposed Narrabri Gas Project and coal seam gas extraction on the Great Artesian Basin were raised but not answered. Instead they were referred to the Planning Department.
Communities are concerned that the 30 per cent water savings made under cap and pipe projects, will be sold off to the highest bidder, which could be a gas company.
Water sharing plans are in effect for a 10-year period and are statutory instruments under the Water Management Act 2000. The plans ‘prescribe how water is sustainably managed to support economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes.’
Submissions have been called for by 30th March.