Water Monitoring Strategy - NSW Coal Basins

The Water Monitoring Strategy for Coal Basins in NSW has been developed to improve the department's understanding of groundwater behaviour in the NSW coal-bearing geological basins.

The strategy aims to construct new groundwater monitoring bores to collect data for groundwater in coal basins, and to understand the potential effects of extractive industries on water resources in these locations.

Coal basin water monitoring locations

As part of the strategy, we are expanding the existing network of water monitoring infrastructure. This initiative will improve our knowledge of groundwater behaviour across NSW’s coal basins through the provision of better mapping, monitoring and management.

When complete, the data from the water monitoring sites will be shared with the community, government and industry, delivering a long-term benefit for multiple data users. This includes water level data sent to the internet allowing the community to see what is happening with the resource in real-time.

A total of $22.8 million has been allocated by the NSW Government to deliver the strategy, which will be completed in 2020.


Why expand the network of water monitoring locations?

Over time, NSW has established a network of over 4000 monitoring bores at more than 3000 locations across the state. These bores were built to collect information in areas of large-scale water use, mainly irrigation. There is a need for the current network to be expanded into the coal basins.

Expanding water monitoring points means improving the accuracy in measuring and monitoring in NSW coal basins. Collecting baseline data allows the department to closely and accurately monitor change in water quality and quantity over time.

What work is required to create new water monitoring points?

Between 50-90 new deep water monitoring bores will be constructed in coal basins in NSW. See the map above for the selected locations of monitoring.

Monitoring points will be placed in both shallow and deep aquifers, measuring groundwater quality, level and pressure.

Through a rigorous selection process, the department determines proposed bore sites. This process involves a combination of scientific data and a peer review. The proposed sites allow for accurate measurement of groundwater quality and changes over time.

fact sheet ((PDF 179.1 KB)) has been developed which contains further information on water monitoring, including site selection and equipment used.

How will the data be used?

The data obtained from the monitoring points will be collated and managed within the department's corporate water data systems. The data and derived information products will be available to all users through the internet. Some data will be available in real-time directly from a live feed from the water monitoring points. The data will be used by the Government to analyse any changes to water quality and quantity.

This information is not used for regulating nearby water use.

What are the next steps?

Work has commenced at a number of locations, including:

  • Southern Coalfields (Camden to Moss Vale) - construction began in July 2018 and completed in July 2019.
  • Hunter Coalfields construction commenced in February 2019 and completed in June 2019.
  • Gunnedah and Gloucester Basins – drilling commenced in July 2019 and will run through until April 2020.
  • Western Coalfield (North and South) – land access and environmental approvals are completed and the drilling has been tendered. Drilling is expected to run from October 2019 to January 2020.
  • Newcastle Coalfield and Clarence Moreton Basin  – sites have been selected and environmental assessments are soon to commence. Drilling will occur in the first half of 2020.

For more information, a fact sheet ((PDF 599.1 KB)) on the rollout and planned activities has been developed for the Gunnedah Basin.

Alternatively check back in on this web page, which will be regularly updated as the water monitoring network expansion is rolled out across each area.

More information

  • Contact Rob Brownbill, Project Manager, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on 0428 688 954.