Since 2012, several large ten year water licences exceeding 5GL have been issued by the Northern Territory Government from the aquifers which feed the Daly, Katherine and Roper rivers.
These aquifers are now over-allocated beyond the agreed caps on extraction which were in place under draft water allocation plans for the Oolloo and Tindall (Mataranka) aquifers. This does not include a specific reserve of water for use by Indigenous communities for economic development purposes, or water use by pastoral, mining or petroleum companies.
Over-extraction will decrease dry season flows, threatening key species and their habitats as well as fisheries, bush food sources and important cultural sites.
Water allocation plans informed by the best available science, knowledge and community consultation must be in place prior to the issuing of any long term water licences. Environment NT needs your help to protect our Top End rivers from over-extraction.
We wish to express our strong concerns and objection to the Government’s current water licencing framework, which scrapped the community supported draft water allocation plans for the Oolloo Dolostone Aquifer and the Mataranka Tindall Limestone Aquifer.
WE THE UNDERSIGNED RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH
The Government’s current policy, to grant large ten year water extraction licences in the absence of declared water allocation plans for the two regions, fails to accord with the National Water Initiative, is short-sighted and lacks transparency.
Our concerns are amplified by the fact that recent licences granted have seen the total volume of water allowed to be extracted from the Oolloo and Mataranka Tindall Aquifers exceed the agreed caps under the previous draft water allocation plans.
YOUR PETITIONERS THEREFORE HUMBLY PRAY THAT
- Water allocation plans are informed by the best available science and community consultation to be legislated for each region under the Water Act.
- The figures regarding the total and projected volume of water extracted by mining and petroleum companies are released to the public without delay.
- Water demand by mining and petroleum activities is incorporated into the Water Act and included in the licencing process.
- Water allocation plans are equitable and include an amount of water for Indigenous economic development, known as a Strategic Indigenous Reserve, in recognition of land rights which does not include water rights.
- The NT Government recognises the high productive values of the Territory’s rivers and springs to fishing, tourism and pastoral industries as well as their inherent ecological, community health and cultural values.
- The NT Government recognises the trade-off between maintaining healthy rivers and extracting water for other purposes and the impact this has upon fisheries, culture, threatened species, maintaining ecological functions, tourism, communities and the identity of the Top End.
- The NT Government supports the important role and function of the National Water Commission in ensuring a transparent, fair and sustainable water allocation process
AND YOUR PETITIONERS, AS IN DUTY BOUND, WILL EVER PRAY.