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Australian watchdog flags flaws in Adani's Carmichael coal project water plan

Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s proposed Carmichael coal project in Queensland, Australia, could be further delayed after the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an independent Australian federal agency also known as CSIRO, found serious flaws in the company's key water-management plan to protect an ancient springs complex near the site, ABC reported Dec. 17.

Adani's Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan aims to minimize negative impacts on ecosystems, including the Doongmabulla Spring complex.

The CSIRO and Geoscience Australia review of Adani's water management plan was commissioned by the Australian government's Department of Environment and Energy. The agency is mainly concerned with the level of groundwater drawdown at Doongmabulla by the coal project's operations, which could lead to a permanent dry up.

Adani is looking to drain billions of liters of groundwater per year for its proposed mine under its water plan. Two groundwater studies organized by the Australian government could not pinpoint which of two underground aquifers feeds the threatened ecosystem.

Adani's water management plan is required to secure the federal and Queensland governments' final approvals.

Additionally, the CSIRO found unverified data in Adani's water management plan.

Queensland's Department of Environment and Science instructed Adani to resolve concerns raised by the CSIRO before any new or updated groundwater plans are reviewed again, ABC reported.

ABC reported in August that Adani's most recent draft plan to protect Doongmabulla failed to address regulator demands to protect the oasis.

The Department of Environment and Science said Adani needs to update not only its water management plan but also its black throated finch management plan for approval before significant disturbance can start at the coal mine.

"We have been assisting with and welcomed a review by the CSIRO as we are committed to working transparently and to the same standards that are in place for other Australian mines," an Adani spokesperson told ABC.