Beneficial use of coal seam water for agriculture; how its use impacts the industry, community and environment; and whether it provides  long-term sustainable benefits.

Coal seam water is produced as a by-product of coal seam gas extraction. This is an expanding industry in Queensland, which is projected to grow in other States too. Coal seam gas companies are required to treat coal seam water to high environmental standards, which means there is a new source of water that can be used by other industries, such as agriculture. Given the possibility of having to build new irrigation infrastructure, and the fact that the average life cycle of a coal seam gas operation is 25 years, Sarah aims to understand (i) if  is it beneficial for farmers to use this new water source?; (ii) can coal seam gas companies recover water treatment costs by selling coal seam water to farmers?; and, (iii) are there more effective uses of coal seam water (e.g. using it to artificially recharge aquifers)? Her research aims to provide a holistic cost-benefit analysis incorporating the economic, environmental and social costs and benefits to both farmers and coal seam gas companies.  


Coming from a multidisciplinary background, Sarah has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy from the University of York, followed by a Master of Science in Energy and Natural Resource Management from University College London. During her masters, she completed her research thesis (awarded with distinction) on the role collective action plays in successful groundwater management in Australia. Afterward, she worked with the International Water Management Institute in New Delhi as an intern researcher, followed by a visiting fellowship with the Australian National University in Canberra focusing on the implementation of a Managed Aquifer Recharge scheme in the Indo-Gangetic plain. The main aim of this research was to design institutional frameworks that would ensure the long-term sustainability of the managed aquifer recharge technologies, in accordance with the local conditions, while analysing conjunctive water management policies. Sarah's research interests include socio-economic analysis of water projects, collective action and co-management of natural resources, community engagement, institutional design, water governance and policy, conjunctive water management, managed aquifer recharge, and climate change adaptation. Publications include: 1. Shalsi, S., Ordens, C.M., Curtis, A., Simmons C.T (2019). “Can collective action address the tragedy of the commons in groundwater management? Insights from an Australian case study”. Hydrogeology Journal. 2.  Reddy, V., Rout, S., Shalsi S., Pavelic P., Ross A. (2020). Managing Underground Transfer of Floods for Irrigation: A Case Study from the Ramganga Basin, India. Journal of Hydrology. 583.


Associate Professor Glen Corder & Kathy Witt