Community's fight to protect Sydney’s water supply

Small community's fight to protect Sydney’s water supply

FIRST ON 7: It's feared part of Sydney's water supply could come under threat from the operations of an international coal mining company.

Hundreds of residents in the NSW Southern Highlands have been told a major aquifer could lose billions of litres every year if mining goes ahead.

A grey army has drawn the battle lines in the fight to save their precious water and help protect Sydney's supply for future generations.

Their enemy is Korean mining giant Posco, which trades as Hume Coal

"All the coal is going to be exported so it's not as though we're doing it because we have to," resident Tim Littlemore said.

"Sydney's going to suddenly find it's drying up and not becasue there's a drought."

While hyrdogeologist Phillip Pells said that mining will dramatically reduce water levels in the Southern Highlands aquifer and a crucial dam within the Sydney catchment.

Dr Pells computer projections show more than 13 billion litres of water a year would be sucked out by mining

Trying to keep mining exploration off their properties has already proven to be incredibly expensive for Southern Highlands residents.

"It's really bullying and intimidation land holders, it costs them tens of thousands of dollars," Highlands Action Group's Peter Martin said.

If residents refuse to sign a land access agreement they can then be faced with a very one-sided court battle against the might of an international coal company.

They claim Hume Coal has been drilling for three years without showing the community any results.

Hume Coal said the claims were "sensationalist, unhelpful to the community, and not based on fact".

"We have this valuable resource being the water, which is more valuable tot he local people than the coal," geoscientist John Lee said.