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Cumulative Management Area

Under the Water Act 2000 (Water Act), a Cumulative management area (CMA) can be declared if an area contains 2 or more petroleum tenures, including tenures on which coal seam gas (CSG) activities operate and where there may be cumulative impacts on groundwater resulting from water extraction by the tenure holders.

Why declare a Cumulative Management Area?

Declaring a CMA enables assessment of future impacts using a regional modelling approach and the development of management responses - such as monitoring programs - that are relevant to the potential cumulative impacts. It also enables responsibilities to be assigned, through the department approved underground water impact report, to each tenure holder in the area for monitoring, bore and baseline assessments, and negotiating make good arrangements.

A CMA is declared by the chief executive of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection under the Water Act.

When a CMA has been declared, the department will publish a map of the CMA on its website. Petroleum tenure holders (including CSG operators) who hold tenure within the CMA will also be sent a notice about the declaration of the CMA.

The rights of bore owners within a CMA are not affected by the declaration. If a private water bore has an impaired capacity within or outside the CMA as a result of water extraction by petroleum tenure holders, the petroleum tenure holders must make good the impairment.

The role of the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment

The management of groundwater in CMAs is overseen and coordinated by the independent Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA).

For each cumulative management area the OGIA will produce an Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR) which will include:

  • a prediction of impacts on water levels
  • a water monitoring program
  • a spring impact management strategy
  • an assignment of responsibilities to individual petroleum tenure holders to undertake water management activities in the area.

The OGIA will consult with petroleum tenure holders, bore owners and the public on the development of an underground water impact report for the CMA.

Surat Cumulative Management Area

The Surat Basin and the Southern Bowen Basin contain petroleum and gas (including CSG) operations.

CSG activities occur in the Walloon Coal measures of the Surat Basin and in the Bowen Basin. Conventional petroleum and gas activities are undertaken in a number of Surat and Bowen Basin formations including the Precipice and Showground Sandstones.

The Surat Cumulative management area (Surat CMA) was declared after consideration of:

  • the location of petroleum and gas operations
  • the geology of the area
  • the potential for interconnectivity between aquifers in the area
  • the cumulative impacts of water extraction by petroleum tenure holders.

The Surat CMA is identified in the attached map (PDF, 1.0M)

How was the boundary of the Surat Cumulative Management Area determined?

The Water Act applies to 2 types of petroleum tenure, a petroleum lease and an authority to prospect (e.g. exploration).The Surat CMA includes activities operating under both of these tenures.

As activities on a petroleum lease produce significantly more water than an authority to prospect, the boundary of the Surat CMA has been determined by focusing on the location of petroleum leases (PDF, 1.0M).

However, obligations within the Surat CMA apply equally to tenure holders operating under a petroleum lease or authority to prospect.

The boundary encompasses lands approximately 50km beyond the outer perimeter of the group of petroleum leases to ensure potential impacts are managed.

The urban environment surrounding Toowoomba contains a significant density of domestic water bores. To ensure that this area of high density domestic water bores was included in the Surat Cumulative Management Area, the boundary in this area extends beyond the 50 km buffer for petroleum leases.

Approved Surat Cumulative Management Area Underground Water Impact Report

The functions of the OGIA were previously the responsibility of the Queensland Water Commission (QWC). The government made changes to the delivery of functions that were previously the responsibility of the QWC. As a result of the changes, the groundwater management functions of the QWC became the functions of the OGIA.

On 18 July 2012, the QWC submitted its UWIR for the Surat CMA to the department. The UWIR for Surat CMA was approved with conditions on 12 October 2012.

You can view the approved Surat UWIR.

Under the approved Surat UWIR, there is an immediately affected area for the Springbok Sandstone, Walloon Coal Measures and the Bandana Formation. There are also very small immediately affected areas in the Precipice Sandstone and Clematis Sandstone caused by conventional petroleum and gas operations.

For 85 registered bores located in an immediately affected area, the Water Act requires responsible tenure holders to: 

  • undertake bore assessments within 60 business days of the UWIR taking effect
  • enter into a make good agreement with bore owners within 40 business days of the bore assessment being undertaken.

Under the approved Surat UWIR, petroleum tenure holders are also responsible for:

  • implementing a water monitoring strategy
  • implementing a spring impact mitigation strategy.

Additional information about the UWIR can be found on the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment website.

Last updated
1 April 2013