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Government approval of policy/process development

That before any further production approvals are granted, a regional water assessment be conducted as part of a SREBA for any prospective shale gas basin, commencing with the Beetaloo Sub-basin. The regional assessment should focus on surface and groundwater quality and quantity (recharge and flow), characterisation of surface and groundwater-dependent ecosystems, and the development of a regional groundwater model to assess the effects of proposed water extraction of the onshore shale gas industry on the dynamics and yield of the regional aquifer system.

Target completion date

Stage 3
To be completed by end December 2022

Reform area
Safeguarding water and the environment
Project action
Assessing, protecting and monitoring water resources
Lead agency
Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security

Action item update

Implementation progress

The Framework for Strategic Regional and Environmental Baseline Assessment: A guide to undertaking a Strategic Regional and Environmental Baseline Assessment (SREBA) in the Northern Territory was released in July 2020 and can be found here.

Government has determined a SREBA is required for the Beetaloo sub-Basin.  The region-specific Scopes of Work for various baseline studies will be approved by the Minister for the Environment.

The draft Scope of Work for the water component of the SREBA for the Beetaloo Sub-basin, which was developed based on advice from an independent expert panel, has been peer-reviewed during a one-day workshop in mid-December 2020 including DEPWS, CSIRO and industry representatives.

DEPWS representative presented draft scope of works to Beetaloo Regional Reference Group meeting, and received encouraging feedback from key stakeholders present.

A final draft of the Scope of Work has been submitted to SREBA leadership team for review before being submitted for approval by the Minister. Field work is expected to commence early dry season 2021.

Preliminary work has been undertaken in cooperation with the Commonwealth Government's Geological and Bioregional Assessment program in the Beetaloo Sub-basin with further groundwater and surface water studies to continue in 2021. This work will support the development of water allocation plans.