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Coal-Associated Water Workshop

Project Number # 1060

Coal-Associated Water Workshop

Project Leader:  Heather Chapman

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Background and Relevance

Coal seam gas and shale exploration is significant for the development of cleaner energies and future fuel needs, as well as a considerable opportunity for Australia to develop a lucrative export market. Community debate is intensifying on the development of unconventional gas as a significant resource for Australia, with much of the focus on coal-seam gas extraction in Queensland and northern NSW. Given that water is a major by-product when gas is extracted, concerns have been raised regarding the volumes and the quality of water that is associated with the gas production and the management of both the remediated waters and  the resulting brine waste streams.

WaterRA held an issues scoping workshop on coal-associated water and the implications for ground and surface waters with respect to public health on 30 March 2012. The purpose of the workshops was:

  1. To provide background information on the exploration of gas reserves in Australia from coal seams and shale with respect to the assessment and management of drinking water quality.
  2. To explore the knowledge gaps associated with large scale exploration of gas reserves though out Australia as they relate to public health and water.
  3. To identify research questions and prioritise topics for project proposal development.


Nearly 40 representatives from WaterRA members and invited guests from around Australia gathered in Brisbane at the CSIRO, Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park, to examine issues relating to coal-associated water focussing on water quality, particularly issues associated with public health. WaterRA's workshop brought together researchers, health regulators, environmental regulators and industry representatives from around Australia to discuss the research needs in this field.

The workshop was facilitated by A/Prof Heather Chapman. A range of key note speakers including Peter Stone (GISERA); Janet Cumming (Queensland Health) and Anita Packwood (OWSR); Andrew Bath (Water Corporation), and Janelle Murray (Origin Energy) presented on various perspectives relating to coal-associated water.

Presentations were followed by a workshopping session in smaller groups to help identify where knowledge gaps existed and where research would be beneficial in addressing these gaps. A report  was prepared which synthesises the outcomes of these discussion and potential research areas for WaterRA to investigate.

For more information about this event, click here. You will need to have registered on the WaterRA website, and be from a WaterRA member organisation, to access this information.

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