In the wake of the water shortage in Gloucester, MidCoast Council has been looking for water wherever it can be found.
One of the options its looked at is the water storage at the Stratford Coal Mine south of Gloucester.
Mining requires the use of water for washing coal and dust suppression but environment management requires that dirty water never flows into the watercourse. Therefore, Stratford mine has a range of storage dams with a total on-site storage water capacity of about 40,350 megalitres.
According to the Australian Government Bioregional Assessment Program, on average the site has more water in its catchments than needed, with the excess historically released to Avondale Creek under Environment Protection Licence No. 5161 or through irrigation.
Council has its eye on that water and is currently in discussion with Yancoal, the owner of Stratford Coal Mine about getting access to the water. There are also storage dams at the currently out-of-operation Duralie Mine, also owned by Yancoal.
According to council's director of infrastructure and engineering services Rob Scott, council has been actively looking for alternative water sources to help manage the water storage.
"We have been working with Stratford Mine's owner Yancoal to access some of the water that the mine has stored in dams on the site," Mr Scott explained.
"This is a great alternative source of water for the Gloucester community that will take some pressure off water supplies in the region."
Initial testing has identified that the water cannot be used for the domestic supply, however it is suitable for other purposes such as road works.
"Currently we are awaiting the necessary approvals from NSW Department of Planning before we can access this water," he explained.
"Yancoal has been very helpful in assisting council to access this water supply for the benefit of the Gloucester community," Mr Scott said.