How to use this assessment

Bioregional assessment findings can help governments, industry and the community provide better-informed regulatory, water management and planning decisions.

Assessment results flag where future efforts of regulators and proponents can be directed, and where further attention is not necessary. This is emphasised through the ‘rule-in–rule-out’ process, which focuses on areas where hydrological changes are predicted. This process identified areas, and consequently water resources and water-dependent assets, that are very unlikely to experience hydrological change or impact due to additional coal resource development.

This assessment predicts the likelihood of exceeding levels of potential hydrological change at a regional level. It also provides important context to identify potential issues that may need to be addressed in local-scale environmental impact assessments of new coal resource developments. It should help project proponents to meet legislative requirements to identify the environmental values that may be affected by changing groundwater, and to adopt strategies to avoid, mitigate or manage the predicted impacts. These assessments do not investigate the social, economic or human health impacts of coal resource development, nor do they consider risks of fugitive gases and impacts unrelated to water. Water quality is investigated only for salinity, where models and data are available.

Bioregional assessments are not a substitute for careful assessment of proposed coal mine or CSG extraction projects under Australian or state environmental law. Such assessments may use finer-scale groundwater and surface water models and consider impacts on matters other than water resources. However, the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (a federal government statutory authority established in 2012 under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) can use these assessment results to formulate their advice.

The full suite of information is provided at www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au, including all technical products as well as information about all datasets used or created, most of which can be downloaded from data.gov.au. These underpinning datasets, including shapefiles of geographic data and modelling results, can assist decision makers at all levels to review the work undertaken to date, and to extend or update the assessment if new models or data become available, or if plans change for future coal resource development in the bioregion (see Building on this assessment).

The Programme’s rigorous commitment to data access is consistent with the Australian Government’s principles of providing publicly accessible, transparent and responsibly managed public sector information.

Last updated:
9 August 2017