Production of coal seam gas (CSG), or coal bed methane, requires large-scale depressurisation of a target formation by extracting groundwater, which, in turn, has the potential to affect overlying and underlying aquifers. This leads to wide-ranging stakeholder concerns around the impacts on groundwater assets such as water supply bores, groundwater-dependent ecosystems and connected watercourses. Around 2010, the CSG industry in Queensland, Australia grew rapidly with the expansion of operations in the Surat and Bowen basins by multiple operators. This particularly raised concerns about the cumulative effects, because the target coal seams are part of the Great Artesian Basin – one of the world’s largest aquifers. To respond to this challenge, an innovative framework was developed to provide for an independent cumulative impact assessment and to set up arrangements for managing those impacts. This chapter describes the main thrust of that framework.
Part of the book: Groundwater Management and Resources