Fitzroy River assessment
In early 2008, heavy rainfall led to flooding in the western areas of the Fitzroy River catchment. Those floodwaters breached the Ensham Resources Coal Mine levee bank system to inundate open-cut coal pits north of the Nogoa River.
The subsequent release of high salinity water into the Nogoa River impacted drinking water for a range of towns downstream from the mine.
The Queensland Government initiated a significant response to this issue which included the formation of the Fitzroy Water Quality Advisory Group and the development of an environmental monitoring program that provided fortnightly web-based updates of the situation. These updates ran from November 2008 to January 2009. Updates ceased when heavy rainfall flushed the river system, restoring water quality to background levels.
A monitoring report entitled Assessment of the Fitzroy river Aquatic Ecosystem following the 2008 Discharge of Coal Mine-affected Floodwaters from the Ensham Coal Mine (see availability) collates the data collected during late 2008 and 2009 and reviews the water quality associated with the dewatering operation and details the level of impact on the aquatic ecosystems, irrigation and stock watering.
The Fitzroy River website was also established, providing further information on the issue and the responses to the issue.
The Queensland Government has acted to ensure that mine dewatering will not have a significant impact on water quality in the future. Actions include:
- a study of the cumulative impacts on water quality of mining activities in the Fitzroy River Basin
- a model of the cumulative impacts of mine releases was developed and used in the review of licensing arrangements
- new model licence conditions were developed for the coal mines in the Fitzroy – providing more flexibility for mining companies and reducing environmental risk
- the process for Transitional Environmental Program (TEP) application has been streamlined so that water is discharged more quickly during flows and before the quality deteriorates
- environmental values and water quality objectives have been developed which provide improved localised water quality guidelines for the Fitzroy Basin.
Further information on each of these actions can also be found on the Fitzroy River website.
Available from the library catalogue
The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.