Santos required Water Use Approval

An Environment Protection Authority investigation has found that Santos did not hold a Water Use Approval issued by the Department of Industry – Water to irrigate with treated water from its Narrabri coal seam gas operation.

The Department of Industry - Water raised the matter with the EPA after Santos commenced irrigating a Lucerne crop on their own land with treated water.

The EPA undertook a thorough and detailed investigation of the matter, including consulting with the Department of Industry - Water, and found that a Water Use Approval to use treated water for irrigation, on Santos owned land, was required.

The EPA’s investigation found that no environmental harm occurred, or is likely to occur, in relation to the matter.

Gas industry activities in NSW are subject to controls from across government; Santos had all other relevant licences in place and a strict regime of water monitoring was undertaken.

Santos stopped irrigation activities at Leewood while the matter was resolved but will not be permitted to recommence irrigation until they have obtained the approval.

A Water Use Approval is required under the Water Management Act, administered by the Department of Industry - Water. Santos was fined $1,500 which is the prescribed fine under the Water Management Act for the alleged administrative failure.

The EPA is the lead regulator for gas in NSW, this includes overseeing compliance with conditions of approvals issued by other NSW agencies.