IF it wasn't for an almost $1 billion investment to discover and build plants that purify the water drilled from coal seam gas wells, then Gladstone's LNG facilities may never have been built.
Those were Deputy Premier and Industry Minister Jeff Seeney's words in an off-the-cuff presentation at the opening of QGC's Kenya Water Treatment Plant near Chinchilla last week.
Meanwhile environmentalists are concerned with how the companies will manage millions of tonnes of salt that could end up in landfill.
Kenya is the first of two plants that form part of QGC's Queensland Curtis LNG project.
The plants, the first of their kind in Australia, purify water collected as a by-product of gas production and deliver it to local farmers, irrigators and communities.
Mr Seeney said water was a big issue for the state around the early days of coal seam gas production, and the significance of the plant should not be underestimated.
"This plant has enabled the development of the industry, had we not found this solution, had QGC not been prepared to make this investment of almost $1 billion across the projects, then I don't believe the CSG industry would have developed," he said.
"This is a key enabler of the $60 billion worth of investment happening across Queensland today."
Parent company BG Australia chairman Catherine Tanna said with the right that gas companies had under Queensland laws to take the water they produced came an obligation to purify it and give it to the community for agriculture, industry and town supply.
"Farmers take water directly from the underground pipeline en route to the weir or from the Condamine River, and are preparing for cotton and other crops they might not have contemplated a few years ago," she said.
"This is a wonderful result for the gas industry, communities, agriculture and government - a demonstration of working together towards a common objective."
While 97% of the water will be put to beneficial use, it is the other 3% that has environmentalists worried.
Greens Senator Larissa Walters said if the mountains of salt ended up in landfill then results for downstream communities, industries and the environment could be disastrous.
QGC indicated it will store millions of tonnes of salt in landfill while it seeks out commercial applications for the salt, as well as pharmaceutical uses.
- Each year, the resource sector uses less than 4% of Australia's groundwater. Agriculture uses more than 50%.
- 25 people will operate the Kenya plant.
- It will be operated and maintained by Veolia Water Australia as part of a 20-year, $800 million contract.
- SunWater built and operates a 20km pipeline that transports treated water from the plant to landholders and Chinchilla Weir.
- The facility can treat 92 megalitres per day.
- 97% of the water will be put to beneficial use, compared with 75-85% from a typical water treatment plant.
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