Santos’ plans to build gasfields across the Gunnedah Basin of North West NSW are being met with fierce community opposition. Their Narrabri Gas Project is Santos’ plan to drill 850 coal seam gas wells through the Pilliga forest, the largest inland forest left in Eastern Australia.
Santos’ risky quest for coal seam gas in the Pilliga so far has met disastrous results – with over 20 pollution scares, including groundwater contamination, waste spills, and continuing leaks from evaporation ponds.
The Billarrga is one of very few significant recharge zones for the entire Great Artesian Basin (GAB), which extends over 22% of Australia and maintains base flows to countless wetlands, streams and rivers. This land is an incredibly sacred water sink, where the water cycle enters the largest underground water reservoir in the world, as well as contributes significantly to the head of pressure that helps drive the underground water flows.
This head of pressure created beneath the Billarrga enables the release of water back to the surface in more arid zones in Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and NSW, through natural springs and bores.
This process also helps hydrate the Murray Darling Basin and contributes significantly to the base flows of the Darling River.
Coal seams act as landscape filters, and the extreme water pressures deep below the ground have locked in hundreds of millions of years of accumulated salts and toxins, including volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and radioactive particles.
To release the gas from the coal seams Santos need to de-water and de-pressurise them, the process plans to remove 46 Gigalitres of water from our underground reserves. The decrease in water pressure within the coal seams will impact significantly on the head of pressure driving the GAB, as well as release the salts and toxins.
In short, this campaign is about saving Australia’s future water security, food security and economic prosperity. ‘Water Is Life’, and once we destroy the water, there is no longer an economy, community or ecology.