A new source of water
Some farmers around Chinchilla are getting a first taste of what's to come - high quality water from the gas industry.
In coming months, up to eight megalitres a day from QGC's water treatment plant at QGC's Kenya production site is expected to start flowing down a pipeline towards Chinchilla Weir.
When the Kenya Water Treatment Plant is fully operating in 2013, it will provide up to 95 megalitres a day for use by farmers, industry and the community.
A similar size water treatment plant is proposed at Woleebee Creek, south-west of Wandoan, taking QGC's processed water production close to 200 megalitres a day by the middle of 2014.
"This is a real bonus for farmers with access to this additional water," says Dougal Hains, who is focused on successful delivery of water infrastructure for Upstream Projects.
"Their farms will be almost climate-proof with respect to water supply for at least the next decade, and probably longer."
Under a deal with water distributor SunWater, treated water from coal seams from the Kenya plant will be channelled into a 23km pipeline to the Chinchilla Weir.
SunWater built and now owns and operates the pipeline, and has agreements with farmers to take the water from the pipeline and within an irrigation scheme stretching 75km along the Condamine River.
SunWater is investigating a similar scheme with a 120km pipeline from QGC's proposed Woleebee Creek water treatment plant to Glebe Weir, north of Taroom.
Dougal says the wider community is starting to recognise the significance of the new water source, its size and potential benefits - and the engineering and construction achievement the water treatment projects represent.
"These two treatment plants will be turning out up to 185 megalitres of high quality water each and every day," he said.
"That's the equivalent of the average daily water consumption of Brisbane or 10 times that of Toowoomba (based on an average daily consumption of 150 litres a person a day).
"It's a lot of water in a region of Queensland that has a history of cyclical droughts.
"And, while some farmers will probably be able to drought-proof their properties, the whole community and environment will benefit because a significant number of farmers will be less reliant on water from other sources, especially in dry seasons."
Having watched progress of the Kenya plant from the ground up, Dougal is acutely aware of its engineering significance and complexity. He believes the project is a world-first, with all four water treatment processes in one package: ultra filtration of raw coal seam water; ion exchange to remove minerals from the water; reverse osmosis to desalinate it; and brine concentration to recover almost all remaining water for reuse.
The plant will also boast a 25 megawatt power station. On top of that, QGC's water treatment plants at Kenya and Woleebee will be bigger than anything planned by other liquefied natural gas proponents in Queensland.
"This is a massive commitment in terms of scale and funding," Dougal said.
"We're investing about A$1 billion on treating water and making it available to the community. It's a genuine 'good news' story." Dougal said the successful process proving of a smaller 12 megalitre-a-day section of the Kenya plant had provided confidence that the main plant would meet - and possibly exceed - performance expectations.
The smaller plant had already beaten production targets by about 30% while delivering quality water with no safety or environmental issues.
Dougal said the Kenya plant was expected to recover about 97% of the water it processed, leaving only a small concentrated salt stream that would be stored in reinforced double-lined ponds until a commercial use for the salt was determined, most likely later this year.
This story was originally published in QGC's 'The Energy' newsletter (July 2012). To read the publication in full, please visit http://qgc.com.au/news-media/newsletters.aspx.