BRISBANE Oct 23 - Queensland deputy premier Jeff Seeney says water created as a by-product of coal seam gas exploration is a "resource" that could be used for drinking and irrigating farmland.
He was in Chinchilla in the state's south west on Wednesday for the official opening of the Kenya Water Treatment Plant.
The plant, built for gas company QGC, will desalinate millions of litres of salt water released as a byproduct from coal seam gas extraction every day.
The water is to be used via a 20km pipeline as drinking water for Chinchilla and to irrigate 6000 hectares of farmland in the area.
Mr Seeney says it is a vital resource for agriculture and local communities in drought-racked areas in south east Queensland and Australia.
"There is a huge resource, a huge potential for the replication of this sort of investment," he told reporters.
In a speech at the opening, said a lot of regional communities' concerns about CSG centred on the water issue and it was "always imperative" to find a way to deal with the huge amounts of water produced in the industry.
Ninety seven per cent of the water from the plant is to be reused, QGC says, and 20 farmers have signed up to receive the water.
It is the other three per cent of the water that has environmentalists concerned.
QGC is proposing to evaporate the remaining water and store millions of tonnes of salt crystal in landfill, but is also looking at commercial applications for the salt.
Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters said if the salt ends up in landfill it could be disastrous for downstream communities, particularly in flood-prone areas within the Murray Darling basin.
Lock The Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said the long-term effects were unknown.
"It is basically an uncontrolled experiment on the Queensland landscape with a product (salt) that we have known for a hundred years is an anathema to the landscape," he said.