The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (the Committee) provides advice to the Minister for the Environment on priorities and projects for the Australian Government's research on water-related impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development.
The research aims to strengthen the science underpinning regulatory decisions, including by informing the advice the Committee provides to regulators. It focuses on areas of high risk and where there are identified knowledge gaps, and aims to address issues of national significance within the next three years.
The Committee's advice has identified potential research areas under four priority themes:
- Hydrology: changes in dynamics and aquifer interconnectivity. Research under this theme addresses knowledge gaps in surface and groundwater connectivity, bore integrity, and mine site remediation. These are crucial elements to better understand potential long-term impacts on water resources.
- Ecosystems and water: environmental tolerances, responses and mitigation. Research under this theme improves scientific understanding of the ecological impacts caused by changes to water quantity, quality, and flow; and inform the ability to monitor and mitigate the effects of coal seam gas and coal mining on aquatic ecosystems, key species and ecological communities.
- Chemicals: water-related risks to environmental health. Research under this theme improves scientific understanding of coal seam gas chemicals, their movement in surface and groundwater systems, and their toxicity; and also inform decisions about the management of salts and heavy metals; and
- Cumulative impacts: monitoring, assessment and evaluation. Research under this theme addresses knowledge gaps in cumulative impact assessment processes in light of the significant number of proposals being considered in regional contexts.
The research priorities above were recommended by the Committee in October 2013. The advice provided by the Committee has taken into account current and emerging research in this field and was informed by focused consultation with state and Commonwealth government agencies, industry bodies, industry organisations, academia, non-government organisations and others in the community.
The Australian Government is scoping a number of new projects to be commissioned in 2014.
The Australian Government's research is closely related to the Bioregional Assessment Programme.
If you would like further information or wish to provide comment on the Committee's research priorities please contact us.Back to top