CSG water and environmental management


The Queensland Government has laws to protect groundwater supplies and the local environment from the impacts of petroleum and gas activities, including coal seam gas (CSG) activities.

The laws require that:

  • petroleum and gas operators monitor and assess the impact of their operations on underground water
  • operators publish a report that outlines their obligations, including monitoring obligations on aquifers and springs
  • operators comply with legally binding make good agreement obligations
  • the independent Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment assess and manage the impact of CSG water extraction on groundwater resources in cumulative management areas (CMAs).

Find out more about groundwater management.

CSG water

CSG water, which is the water that is drawn to the surface during the process of extracting CSG, is defined as a waste under Queensland's laws and generally contains reasonably high levels of salt. CSG water must be disposed of under the conditions of a CSG operator's environmental authority, or used under a beneficial use approval (where the material changes from a waste to a resource).

The Queensland Government has developed a Coal seam gas water management policy that ensures the salt produced through CSG activities does not contaminate the environment.

Information is also available on the chemicals commonly used in the hydraulic stimulation process - the process of creating cracks in underground coal seams to increase the flow and recovery of gas out of a well.

CSG environmental management

In addition to protecting water resources, the Queensland Government has established a comprehensive framework for all aspects of CSG environmental management to protect soils, vegetation and wildlife. All CSG projects are required to meet these standards before receiving regulatory approval knows as an environmental authority.

Monitoring and assessing CSG activities

The Queensland Government has strict monitoring and compliance regimes in place to make sure CSG companies meet their legal obligations.

Environmental assessments

Under Queensland law, all applications for CSG activities are subject to rigorous environmental assessment and approval processes before starting a project.

Read more about environmental assessments.

The Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment

The Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) provides the groundwater management functions previously carried out by the Queensland Water Commission.

Find out more about the role of OGIA in CSG groundwater management.

Cumulative management areas

In areas of concentrated CSG development, the impact on water levels caused by individual petroleum and gas projects can overlap. These areas may be declared as cumulative management areas (CMAs). The area of planned concentrated CSG development in Queensland has been declared as the Surat CMA. OGIA prepares the underground water impact report for the Surat CMA. Find out more about cumulative management areas.

Coal Seam Gas Compliance Unit

The CSG Compliance Unit is the central point of contact for all community and landholder enquiries, concerns and assistance relating to CSG issues. Contact the CSG Compliance Unit.

Healthy HeadWaters CSG Water Feasibility Study

The Queensland Government assessed the feasibility of using CSG water to address water sustainability issues in the Queensland section of the Murray-Darling Basin (QMDB).

The Healthy HeadWaters CSG Water Feasibility Study undertook a series of investigations into the:

  • risks of extracting and using CSG water
  • likely supply and demand
  • specific opportunities for using CSG water in the QMDB.

The results of the study have guided an integrated assessment framework of the cumulative impacts of CSG discharge to surface waters.

CSG legislation, policy and industry guidelines

The CSG industry's environmental and water management obligations are governed by a regulatory framework which include:

The environmental regulatory framework also includes:

  • standards for CSG water dams to ensure the environment is protected
  • requirements as part of the environmental authority for operators to progressively rehabilitate the land over the life of CSG projects
  • rules governing all aspects of CSG environmental management protecting soils, vegetation and wildlife. CSG projects must meet these standards before they can be approved.

CSG projects must meet these standards and gain an approved environmental authority before they can operate.

Related links

Last reviewed
May 31, 2016