3.7.3 Using this impact and risk analysis

Findings from BAs 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. The zone of potential hydrological change is the area where the magnitude of the hydrological changes due to additional coal resource development suggests the possibility of impacts to water-dependent ecosystems and assets; outside the zone, adverse impacts on water-dependent ecosystems and assets due to additional coal resource development are considered very unlikely.

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 describe the environmental values that may be affected by the exercise of underground water rights, and to adopt strategies to avoid, mitigate or manage the predicted impacts. This Assessment does not investigate the broader social, economic or human health impacts of coal resource development, nor does it consider risks of fugitive gases and non-water-related impacts.

BAs are not a substitute for careful assessment of proposed coal mine or coal seam gas (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

BAs have been developed with the ability to be updated, for example, to incorporate new coal resource developments in the groundwater model. Existing datasets such as the water-dependent asset register remain relevant for future assessments. If new coal resource developments emerge in the future, the data, information, analytical results and models from this Assessment would provide a comprehensive basis for subregion-scale re‑assessment of potential impacts under an updated coal resource development pathway (CRDP). It may also be applicable for other types of resource development.

The full suite of information, including information for individual assets, is provided at www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au with more detailed results available for:

Access to underpinning datasets, including shapefiles of geographic data and modelling results, can assist decision makers at all levels to review the work undertaken to date; to explore the results using different thresholds; and to extend or update the assessment if new models or data become available. Additional guidance about how to apply the Programme’s methodology is also documented in detailed scientific submethodologies (Table 1).

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:
15 March 2019
Thumbnail of the Hunter subregion

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