The water that comes from CSG developments is often rich in salts and other constituents that render it unsuitable for many direct beneficial uses. According to the Queensland Government’s Department of Natural Resources and Water, the poor quality of the produced water makes the management of this water one of the major concerns associated with CSG development.
However, there are ways to combat this, or work with it. A 2004 study by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy in Queensland found that treated produced water could have a beneficial use in agriculture; aquaculture; niche/cottage industries, such as algae farming; industrial settings; municipal potable water supply; community water supply and recreational activities; and, for environmental purposes such as recharging streams/aquifers, minimum environmental flows, wildlife water supply and habitat creation.
In one such example, the Chinchilla Shire Council, QGC and Origin Energy CSG are working together to secure funding for the development of a 3 ML/d water pipeline and reverse osmosis water purification plant to supply drinking water from QGC’s existing CSG operations to the town of Chinchilla.
QGC Managing Director Richard Cottee said that a joint project team is working to determine the optimum purification method, water pipeline route and commercial terms. He said that the team is also holding discussions with Queensland Government agencies to secure necessary approvals to proceed.
QGC will also be supplying water for the Condamine Power Station from the company’s nearby gas operations using water harvested from coal seams.
“This will avoid any need to use water from other sources such as existing artesian bores, rivers or other surface water flows,”? said Mr Cottee.
“While the harvested water in its untreated state contains some dissolved salts, it can be used in the cooling tower of the power station, and after treatment, it will be used in the boiler.”?
He said that the supply of drinking water to the town of Miles will also be considered as part of the Condamine Power Station development.
Throughout 2007, QGC also worked with agricultural scientists investigating whether untreated water from the gas production process could form the basis of a sustainable farming system.
Meanwhile, plans to bolster the town of Dalby’s drinking water with treated CSG by-water by 2008 using world-first water technology are well underway at Dalby Town Council.
“Designs for the new desalination plant and 23 km pipeline that will carry CSM by-water from Arrow Energy’s Tipton West gas field to Council’s Water Treatment Plant are currently being prepared,”? Dalby Mayor Warwick Geisel said.
“The new plant will produce four million litres of water a day,”? he said.
The innovative project has gained support from all levels of government as well as private enterprise with Council collaborating with the Federal Government’s National Water Commission, the Queensland Government and Arrow Energy to get the venture off the ground.