The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) provides advice on individual development proposals. Regional scale management is informed by bioregional assessments being undertaken in areas subject to development pressure. These will provide baseline information and assess cumulative impacts. Research is improving our understanding and management of the impacts of coal and coal seam gas extraction projects on water resources.
Office of Water Science
The Office of Water Science provides secretariat and technical support to the IESC which advises Australian government regulators on the water-related impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development proposals.
Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC)
The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (the IESC) provides scientific advice to Australian governments on the impacts that each coal seam gas and large coal mining development may have on water resources.
Requests for advice come from the federal and state government agencies that are responsible for making decisions on development proposals. The IESC is required to provide its advice within two months of receiving a request and to publish its advice within 10 days of it being finalised.
The IESC also provides advice to the Australian Government on bioregional assessments and research priorities and projects.
Other related programs
The Australian Government is funding regional-scale assessments of the impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development on water resources in 13 areas across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Bioregional assessments identify where impacts are unlikely and where there may be cumulative impacts to water and water-dependent assets as a result of proposed coal and coal seam gas developments. Regulators can use this information when deciding whether to allow projects to proceed and, if so, under what conditions. Bioregional assessment findings can inform the advice the Independent Expert Scientific Committee gives to Commonwealth and state environment ministers about proposed projects.
The program website provides open access to the methods and datasets used to develop the assessments as they are completed. Program data from a range of disciplines are available and provided under a Creative Commons Attribution license where possible. Further information is available at www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au.
The Australian Government commissioned research to better understand the impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development on water resources. The research aimed to strengthen the science underpinning regulatory decisions, including by informing the advice the IESC provides to Australian governments on individual development proposals. It focused on areas where there are identified knowledge gaps, and aimed to address issues of national significance.
Research projects are grouped under priority themes:
- Hydrology: changes in dynamics and aquifer interconnectivity
- Ecosystems and water: environmental tolerances, responses and mitigation
- Chemicals: water-related risks to environmental health
- Supporting research
An overview of priority themes is provided in the table below:
Our knowledge is supplemented by research undertaken by other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, industry as well as universities and scientific agencies.
|Hydrology: changes in dynamics and aquifer interconnectivity|
|Hydraulic fracturing techniques|
|Groundwater hydrochemical characterisation of the Surat region and Laura Basin - Queensland|
|Subsidence from coal mining activities|
|Subsidence from coal seam gas extraction in Australia|
|Monitoring and management of subsidence induced by longwall coal mining|
|Monitoring and management of subsidence induced coal seam gas extraction|
|Coal seam gas extraction: modelling groundwater impacts|
|Regional hydrogeological characterisation studies in four coal basins: Laura, Otway, St Vincent and Maryborough|
|Better representation of faults and aquitards in regional groundwater models (current project)|
|Ecosystems and water: environmental tolerances, responses and mitigation|
|Modelling water-related ecological responses to coal seam gas extraction and coal mining|
|Co-produced water: risks to aquatic ecosystems|
|Great Artesian Basin springs survey|
|Peat swamps – ecology monitoring|
|Peat swamps – subsidence and engineering design options|
|Peat swamps - remediation|
|Ecohydrological responses to coal seam gas extraction and coal mining|
|Chemicals: water-related risks to environmental health|
|National assessment of chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction|
|Data and information|
|Bibliography of Australian and international research on coal seam gas extraction and coal mining and implications for water resources for the period 2000-2013|