1.1.3 Component 3 and Component 4: Impact and risk analysis

Once all of the relevant contextual information about a subregion or bioregion is assembled (Component 1), and the hydrological and receptor impact modelling is completed (Component 2), then the impact and risk is analysed in Component 3 and Component 4 (respectively).

These components are undertaken within the context of all of the information available about the subregion or bioregion and a series of conceptual models that provide the logic and reasoning for the impact and risk analysis. Coal resource development and potential impacts are sometimes linked directly to assets (e.g. for water sharing plans); however, more often, the impacts are assessed for landscape classes which are linked to assets using conceptual models. Impacts for assets or landscape classes are assessed by aggregating impacts across those assets or landscape classes.

Results can be reported in a number of ways and for a variety of spatial and temporal scales and levels of aggregation. While all the information will be provided in order for users to aggregate to their own scale of interest, BAs report the impact and risk analysis via at least three slices (impact profiles) through the full suite of information.

Firstly, the hazards and causal pathways that describe the potential impacts from coal resource development are reported and represented spatially. These show the potential hydrological changes that might occur and might underpin subsequent flow-on impacts that could be considered outside BA. The emphasis on rigorous uncertainty analyses throughout BA will underpin any assessment about the likelihood of those hydrological changes. All hazards identified through the IMEA should be considered and addressed through modelling, informed narrative, considerations of scope, or otherwise noted as gaps.

Secondly, the impacts on and risks to landscape classes are reported. These are assessed quantitatively using receptor impact models, supported by conceptual models at the level of landscape classes. This analysis provides an aggregation of potential impacts at the level of landscape classes, and importantly emphasises those landscape classes that are not impacted.

Finally, the impacts on and risks to selected individual water-dependent assets are reported. These are assessed quantitatively using receptor impact models at assets or landscape classes, supported by the conceptual models. This analysis provides an aggregation of potential impacts at the level of assets, and importantly emphasises those assets that are not impacted. Given the large number of assets, only a few key assets are described in the technical product, but the full suite of information for all assets is provided on http://www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au. Across both landscape classes and assets the focus is on reporting impacts and risks for two time periods: a time related to peak production in that subregion or bioregion, and a time reflecting more enduring impacts and risk at 2102.

The causal pathways are reported as a series of impact statements for those landscape classes and assets that are subject to potential hydrological impacts, where there is evidence from the surface water and groundwater numerical modelling. Where numerical modelling results are not available, impact statements will be qualitative and rely on informed narrative. If signed directed graphs of landscape classes are produced, it might be possible to extend impact statements beyond those related to specific receptor impact variables, to separate direct and indirect impacts, and to predict the direction, but not magnitude, of change.

In subregions or bioregions without relevant modelled or empirical data, the risk analysis needs to work within the constraints of the available information and the scale of the analysis while respecting the aspirations and intent of the BA methodology. This might mean that the uncertainties are large enough that no well-founded inferences can be drawn – that is, the hazards and potential impacts cannot be positively ruled in or out.

Last updated:
12 December 2018