Australia: Chinese Firm Gets Nod To Extract Groundwater In Drought-Stricken Queensland
Drought has been a long-standing problem in southeastern Australia. Local communities in southern Queensland sometimes go for months without water and have to ration it lest they risk running out, Quartz reported.
However, a Chinese-owned company in Brisbane has received approval to run commercial water-mining operations in the area in the third week of December.
The company plans to transport the mined water to a facility where it can bottle and sell it. As per a local Australian newspaper, Southern Free Times, the plan of the Chinese owners of Cherrabah Resort at Elbow Valley east of Warwick – which was stalled in 2018, was back on the table in December 2019.
Brisbane-based brothers Wenxing and Wenwei Ma had earlier sought the approval in December 2018 from the Southern Downs Regional Council. They propose to extract up to a million litres of groundwater annually from the property.
The controversial proposal comes despite the complaints by neighbouring property owners. After the decision, some of the council members told the Southern Free Times that they had no choice. “The government of Queensland, not the council, decides how private property owners can use their groundwater resources,” the council said. It also released a statement on December 30, reemphasising that it does not sanction water licenses.
The owners of the Cherrabah property first got a license from the Queensland government to extract water in 2008. In 2016 they received an extension granting them the right to collect 96 megalitres of water per year until 2111, nearly a full century, a report by Quartz stated.
Deputy Mayor Jo McNally, also a council member said that they (council) knew of several property owners pumping water from the ground to sell commercially elsewhere, but there was little they could do. “This is happening all over the region and here we are singling out one landowner,” she said.