The state’s peak environment group is calling on the NSW Government to stop issuing new entitlements for extracting groundwater until we have better scientific knowledge about what level of groundwater harvesting is sustainable.
“Australia is the world’s driest continent and we need firm stewardship of all our precious aquifer resources,” Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said today.
“Groundwater gives life to our wetlands, billabongs and streams, and vegetation such as the iconic River Red Gums. The National Water Commission’s report has sounded the alarm that the increasing use of water from underground aquifers has become an unacceptable risk.
“We know the biggest dangers facing our groundwater resources are climate change, excessive extraction and contamination. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the economic benefits of groundwater extraction versus those derived from groundwater that stays in place, and the amount of recharge needed to sustain healthy ecosystems.
“The Nature Conservation Council calls on the State Government to follow the precautionary principle and protect the long-term capacity for aquifers to supply both human and environmental needs.
"We would like them to suspend new groundwater extraction in NSW until we have sound scientific knowledge about extraction levels that can still support healthy environmental functions. All groundwater extraction should be metered in order to monitor the impact on groundwater and river systems.
“The Government’s recent decision to shelve the controversial proposal to pump water from the Kangaloon Aquifer in the southern highlands shows it has the political will to conserve our groundwater resources,” Ms Faehrmann said.