AN expert panel will speak about impacts of coal mining on water catchments at a “Protect Our Water” Forum in Wollongong on Wednesday.
Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining spokesman Gavin Workman said the forum speakers will explain how underground coal mining is damaging the water catchment and how coal mining can contaminate catchment rivers and creeks, even years after the cessation of mining.
The panel will also discuss the expansion of coal mining in the Special Areas (inner catchment), including projects that are in the pipeline in 2019.
“The NSW Chief Scientist said that Greater Sydney, including Illawarra, is the only example in the world of longwall mining being allowed in a public drinking water catchment,” Mr Workman said.
“There is a good reason why other countries don’t mine their drinking water catchments.
“A recent report confirms that millions of litres of water are lost from the catchment each day due to the impact of coal mining. The report – produced by the Office of NSW Government’s Chief Scientist – further states that the full effect of coal mining on catchment water quantity is unknown.”
Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Greed (IKNAG), Cherry Hardaker said the recently activated desalination plant will only supply water to Sydney suburbs from Parramatta to the Eastern suburbs and south as far as Sutherland.
“Although other areas of Greater Sydney, including the Illawarra, need to cover the cost of the desalination plant, they cannot rely on it as a water supply,” she said.
“The NSW government should prioritise protecting our water catchment over coal mining and implement the precautionary principle when it comes to catchment management.
“They should ban mining in the Special Areas and impose a moratorium on the mining in the broader catchment until the impacts are fully understood. The water catchment is no place for mining expansion by trial and error.”
The Forum will be held at 7.30pm to 9pm, Wednesday, February 13 at the auditorium, The Church on the Mall, Crown Street, Wollongong.
Speakers include Dr Ian Wright, and expert on impact of mining on rivers and creeks from the Western Sydney University, Julie Sheppard from the National Parks Association of NSW and Nic Clyde from the Lock the Gate Alliance.
The forum will be open by Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury.