This is where your tap water starts its journey
Are you a Sydney Water customer? If so, the water that comes out of your tap comes from land managed by WaterNSW (formerly the Sydney Catchment Authority). This land includes five catchments — Warragamba, Woronora, Upper Nepean, Blue Mountains and Shoalhaven — covering less than 2% of the land in NSW. It supplies drinking water for 60% of the state’s population.
This largely unspoilt, native bushland captures and filters our drinking water. It is strictly managed to protect drinking water quality; unauthorised or illegal access attracts fines of up to $44,000. Yet coal seam gas (CSG) licences and wells have been approved in our drinking water catchments.
The simple facts
- Our water catchments are protected, by law, by the WaterNSW — whose role it is to protect and preserve water quality.
- These ‘Special Areas’ are considered so sensitive they are protected by fines up to $44,000 for unauthorised or illegal access.
- In December 2012 the NSW Minister for Primary Industries replaced the entire Board of the SCA. The new chairperson is a former director of two of Australia’s largest mining companies, leaving no public health expert on the SCA Board.
- A CSG well has been drilled in the Warragamba catchment and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure has recommended approval for Apex Energy to proceed with a 16 CSG well project in and around the Woronora and Upper Nepean catchments (though, thankfully, in July 2013 the Planning Assessment Commission rejected a time extension that would have allowed the project to proceed at this time and Apex’s licences were subsequently cancelled).
- Former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell made a clear promise that his government would protect our water catchments from the risks of coal seam gas mining. This was a promise his government has since broken.
- NSW Government buybacks in 2015 have left our water catchments currently free of active CSG licences, but there is no legislation for a permanent ban and it’s expected the government will open up new areas for exploration when their ‘Strategic Release Framework’ is finalised.