Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Monitoring Fitzroy Water Quality

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Monitoring Fitzroy Water Quality

Article excerpt

MINE water discharges into the Fitzroy River catchment have been in the spotlight again this week after authorities confirmed two CQ mines had breached their Environmental Authorities.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management is still considering its response to Saraji and Capcoal mines, with both informing the government of the breaches, which have been described as minor.

As members of the community and political candidates voice their concerns, the department's mine operations general manager Andrew Connor outlined how the system works for mine water discharges and maintaining the Fitzroy River's water quality:

The department monitors salinity levels and the impact of wet weather on mines in the Fitzroy Basin;

Water quality in the Fitzroy Basin continues to improve a as observed by the department's monitoring stations.

That these improvements continue while mines are releasing water is an indicator that the department's model condition approach is working as intended.

Conditions placed on Environmental Authorities for mines in the Fitzroy Basin do allow releases of mine-affected water, once background stream flow has reached a particular value, known as a flow trigger.

The flow triggers are location specific and have been determined to ensure that adequate dilution of a release will occur to ensure water quality downstream of the mine is maintained during the release.

There is no single standard salinity level that a watercourse must be below to allow a release to commence, however, specific water quality objectives have been developed for each of the major streams across the basin.

The water quality objectives for the Fitzroy Basin are prescribed under Queensland law and designed to protect the aquatic health, drinking water quality and stock water quality of the basin for all users.

Model water conditions for coal mines in the Fitzroy Basin have been developed by DERM and applied to coal mines to ensure the cumulative impacts of all mine releases are managed in a way that protects water quality in the Fitzroy River downstream of the mining areas. …

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