The mining of brown coal has had an enormous impact on local waterways, including the Morwell and Latrobe Rivers which have been moved numerous times. The mines are also so deep that they go through local groundwater aquifers.
Currently in order to rehabilitate the mines, each mine operator intends to fill their mine with water. However, many concerns have been raised about water availability across the region, particularly in a drying climate.
The government’s own reports have shown that in a drying climate there is not enough water in the system to fill all three mines, as well as support the local environment and other industries like agriculture.
What will it take to fill the mines if water is the only option?
Hazelwood – 725 GL + annual evaporation 15-20 years uninterrupted fill time
Yallourn – 725 GL + annual evaporation 20-25 years uninterrupted fill time
Loy Yang – 1,420 GL + annual evaporation 20 – 30 years uninterrupted fill time
The unanswered question is where would the water come from. Previous plans to use water from the Latrobe River system have been questioned by irrigators, environmentalists and community members across the region.
Currently through the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (LVRRS) alternative water sources are being explored, including recycled wastewater, desalinated water and opportunities to take from local river systems during high flooding periods.