1.3.1.4 Assessing water dependence


Once the assets were compiled into the asset database and checked for inclusion in the PAE, it was the role of individual bioregion or subregion Assessment teams to assess the water dependence of assets. This meant identifying all assets in the asset list that may be potentially impacted by changes in the groundwater and/or surface water regime due to coal resource development. While the vast majority of the assets will be clearly 'water dependent' in the general sense of the phrase (e.g. bores, rivers and wetlands), there is a small group of assets that could be affected but are not as readily identified as being 'water dependent'. Examples of these assets could include historic buildings that may be potentially subject to added inundation or salinity impacts, or Indigenous assets that may be more difficult to access due to changes in the water regime. This more particular meaning of 'water‑dependence' has been defined to meet the specific requirements of the BA methodology which is focussed on 'assets potentially subject to water‑related impacts' rather than only on 'impacts on water‑dependent assets'.

Once water dependence was determined, and the decisions recorded in the asset database, a preliminary version of the water‑dependent asset register was generated from the asset database. The preliminary version of the water‑dependent asset register, with associated maps and data, was presented to experts and organisations with local knowledge at the Gloucester asset workshop in June 2014 for comment and feedback. More than 15 local representatives from relevant state and local governments and extractive industries attended (Table 8). They identified a number of shortfalls and subsequently provided data to amend the register – some of the issues raised and actions arising are presented in Table 9.

The characteristics of the three groups of water‑dependent assets identified in the Gloucester subregion, and the reasons for their inclusion or exclusion from the water‑dependent asset register, are described in sections 1.3.2 to 1.3.4 .

The water‑dependent asset register is a simple and authoritative listing of the names of the assets that will be included in other components of the BA; all the spatial and other data associated with each asset (including for each element) is stored in the asset database.

Table 8 Organisations represented at the asset workshop held in Gloucester on Tuesday 3 June 2014


Organisation

Number of participants

Gloucester Shire Council

3

Gloucester Water Study

1

Hunter Councils Environment Division

1

Great Lakes Council

3

Mid‑Coast Water

2

NSW Office of Water

3

NSW Environment Protection Authority

1

Hunter Local Land Services

1

AGL (Gloucester Gas)

1

Gloucester Resources Limited (Rocky Hill)

1

Office of Water Science

2

CSIRO Land and Water Flagship

5

Bureau of Meteorology

1

Environmental Resources Information Network

1

Total 26

Table 9 Summary of issues raised by representatives at the asset workshop and actions for the Assessment team of the Gloucester subregion


Description of issue

Action

Preliminary assessment extent (PAE)

While the PAE was accepted by all, the working for this needs to be made fully available to the public.

This is included in the following section 1.3.1.2, and is provided at a purposeful level of detail so that the modelling approach is fully documented to inform stakeholders.

Economic assets

Basic landholder rights data exists (landholders whose property is adjacent to a water source and are outside the NSW licensing system and can gain access to water for their basic rights) which will be useful for an economic asset.

A summary of basic landholder rights in the Gloucester subregion has been provided; this has now been included.

Missing bore depth and entitlement volumes for 10 entitlement licences.

These licences have been provided and included.

Requested check of volume and location of relevant town water supplies.

Assessment team confirmed these. Receptors are now located at the Gloucester and Stroud town water supply off‑takes.

Sociocultural assets

Concern over the perceived arbitrary nature of the list extracted from the Register of the National Estate.

An all‑of‑NSW dataset for heritage items described in local environmental plans (LEPs) has been provided. These LEPs are statutory planning instruments as described in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW). The LEP dataset was used when generating the final asset list.

It was suggested that the main sociocultural asset in the subregion were farms and could we model economic impact to such farms, especially during time of drought.

The BA economic assets include surface water licences and ground water licences. BA plans to model the potential impact of future CSG and coal extraction on water resources licences in the Gloucester subregion. Confirmed that the BA will be assessing the impact during an extended drought conditions and, to perform prospective understanding, will also account for climate change. Also confirmed that, as per the BA methodology, the Gloucester subregion BA is not performing economic modelling. However, given that future availability of water supplies will be modelled, with and without the coal resource development pathway, and that the farmers will understand what their livestock water requirements are in time of drought, that the carrying capacity of a farm could be modelled. However, as per the scope of the BA methodology, economic modelling will not be performed; assessing the water related impact on water dependent assets is the focus. In summary, a BA considers ecological, economic and sociocultural assets; some modelling of ecological assets is undertaken but economic or sociocultural modelling is out of scope. However, the modelling related to changes to the water regime undertaken by BAs can be used as input for economic modelling and sociocultural modelling performed external to the BA Programme.

Concerns were raised that several water‑dependent sociocultural assets on the Karuah River were not listed.

Locations of the ‘Booral Wharf’, ‘Karuah River Washpool’ (at Stroud Rd), and ‘Allworth Community Swimming Pool/Baths’ were provided. They are now processed and included in the water‑dependent asset register.

Note: while there were many other buildings listed in the LEP, there was some debate that these were not water dependent and should not be included in the preliminary register. However, given that the Assessment team possesses this data (see above) these buildings were considered.

Ecological assets

Concerns were raised that the NSW threatened species list was not used when developing the asset database. While a list of species is available, species distribution maps are not associated with this list.

Great Lakes Council suggested that both the platypus and Australian bass should be added to the water‑dependent asset register. Spatially explicit text was provided, as follows:

‘Platypus: The spatial location of this asset should be all waterways within the project area with a Stream Order of 2 and higher, but not below the tidal limit.’

‘Australian bass: The spatial location of this asset should be all waterways within the project area with a Stream Order of 2 and higher, including areas below the tidal limit.’

Habitat for the Platypus and Australian Bass now in the asset database.

Assessment team to be advised when the endangered ecological community (EEC) and threatened species models are published.

There was a concern that some of the 21 potential distributions of species habitat that are EPBC‑listed were considered to have ‘low’ water‑ dependence. This low water‑dependence status was determined by BA staff using the 'Profile' information from the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage Bionet website.

Based on a precautionary principle, involving all members of the workshop, it was decided that 3 of the 14 species initially deemed to have ‘low’ water‑dependence would move into the ‘moderate’ class. These were the regent honeyeater, slaty red gum and swift parrot.

Biodiversity and habitat mapping for the Gloucester subregion is under development.

Assessment team to be informed of progress.

The workshop requested to split the current mapping of the ‘Rainforest, (Lowland tropical Rainforest)’ class, into four categories based on landscape position:

1. mountainous gullies

2. foothills

3. riparian

4. littoral

The first two classes would not be water‑dependent (on lateral flowing water that may be impacted by CSG and/or coal development) and would not require that impact models were built.

It is considered that all ‘Rainforest, (Lowland tropical Rainforest) elements are water‑dependent assets, and the receptor impact modelling, where carried out, will take into account the landscape position – in essence performing the landscape dependent masking that was agreed to at the workshop.

A ‘Fisheries Biodiversity Hotspots’ location dataset exists.

This dataset has been provided and incorporated into the asset database.

A macro‑invertebrate dataset exists that will help identify key locations in the freshwater mussels in the Mammy Johnson River.

This dataset has been provided and incorporated into the asset database.

General

A question was raised as to what specific datasets were used in the preliminary water‑dependent asset register?

The Water Asset Information Tool (WAIT) was used to generate a list of all datasets that was emailed to all workshop participants on Tuesday 17 June 2014.

Last updated:
10 February 2017