Busselton Water raises fracking concerns at inquiry

Busselton Water has lent its voice to an independent scientific panel inquiry into hydraulic fracture stimulation in WA.

A gas well at Whicher Range.

A gas well at Whicher Range.

Busselton Water chief executive officer Chris Elliott raised concerns about the potential impacts of fracking and unconventional gas exploration and extraction near high quality drinking water.

In its submission, Mr Elliott stated they relied soley on deep ground water aquifers to source their water which supplied potable water to around 1000 businesses and 12,000 households in the South West.

Mr Elliott stated their primary concern was the potential adverse impacts on groundwater aquifers through pollution or hydraulic damage.

He stated damage to the confining layers could cause water loss or high quality water zones to mix with poor quality aquifers.

“Considering the difficulty in detecting pollution or hydraulic damage in a timely manner and the potentially irreversible impacts on the resource,” he stated.

“A total exclusion zone should be considered in the vicinity of groundwater that is used for public drinking water supplies.

“Another concern is the use of high quality water supplies in the exploration and extraction of unconventional gas and whether this is a good use of a limited resource.”

Lock the Gate WA coordinator Jane Hammond said the submission from Busselton Water was interesting as it called for the protection via exclusion zones of groundwater areas used for public drinking water.

“The Whicher Range gas wells are found in a priority one drinking water area where Margaret River and other South West towns get their drinking water yet this area has been fracked in the past,” she said.

“A gas exploration lease still remains over the Whicher Range.

“Lock the Gate supports Busselton Water's calls for an exclusion zone for all gas exploration and mining over areas used to supply groundwater for drinking water.”

A final report from the independent inquiry is expected this year.