Groups unite to lobby for drinking water catchment areas

A new alliance of 50 groups have joined forces to campaign against mining activities near Sydney’s drinking water catchment area.

The coalition, called Protect Sydney’s Water, amalgamates groups from the Illawarra, Sydney, Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands which are concerned about the impacts of mining and CSG activity around the catchment area, The Illawarra Mercury reports.

Northern Illawarra Sustainability Alliance co-founder, Peter Turner, said his group joined Protect Sydney's Water to share information and resources in a bid to highlight the potential damage caused by mining activity to the water catchment area.

The Illawarra Escarpment Network is also part of the coalition.

Spokeswoman Carol Berry said the group will support campaigns to protect the environmentally sensitive areas.

"I think the stop coal seam gas campaign has been great in drawing attention to the need to protect water catchment areas from coal seam gas mining and now I think it's an opportunity to draw some attention to ensuring that water catchment areas are also protected from other activities such as longwall mining," Berry said.

The Illawarra region has seen a storm of protests against proposals to explore CSG in the area.

Earlier this year Wollongong councillors stepped up a campaign to send a strong message to the NSW Department of Planning an Infrastructure that they do not want CSG exploration to go ahead in the region.

While more than 3000 people turned out to Bulli Showground In October, forming a human sign that read:

‘‘Protect H2O, stop CSG!’’.

In July Apex Energy were denied permission to drill 16 exploration wells within Illawarra water catchment areas.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) rejected the proposed drilling program, stating that more conclusive studies on the impact of CSG activities to drinking water were needed.

“It appears that the potential risks of coal seam gas activities are still being established and that there is some uncertainty regarding the potential impacts of the suite of coal seam gas extraction techniques which could be applied within various geological formations,” PAC said at the time.

“..a finding that Coal Seam Gas Operations may have fewer groundwater and subsidence impacts is not accepted as a reason to support the proposal.”

Last month a 13,000 strong petition calling for a state-wide ban on all CSG drilling in water catchment areas was handed to the NSW parliament.

"We want the 2 per cent of land in NSW that supplies the drinking water of 60 per cent of people protected," Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore said

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