The Australian government’s leading practice guidance document on water management states:
“Risks and opportunities must be managed at both the corporate and site level to ensure stakeholder value is maximised, production is secure and the community and environmental values associated with the water are maintained or enhanced “
(Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2008).
I’ve reviewed and written many 5C licence compliance reports (issued under the RIWI Act 1914), and there are two observations I’d like to make.
Firstly, water monitoring programs can be poorly planned, managed or even redundant. If site water monitoring is too costly and fails to protect the environment or to protect the water resource … it just wastes time and money.
Secondly, the quality of data used in reports is sometimes very poor. If this data was ever required for important decision making, it could easily be challenged due to a lack of quality assurance systems, or an inability to demonstrate that sampling was undertaken using good sampling protocols. In some cases, I have seen this lead to unwarranted concern in-house and with regulators, consuming time and costs for both.
Throughout the licencing process and when operational, it is important to implement site water management plans that clearly identify purpose, responsibilities, avoid duplication and do not result in unnecessary compliance costs. Aim to set up your monitoring and reporting to efficiently deliver results that are defensible and ensure a safe environment and a secure water supply.
Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2008, Water Management, Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry. Australian government, May 2008.