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Territory rivers at risk from massive irrigation plans

Industry plans for massive expansion in the Northern Territory, largely driven by cotton, could threaten our fishing, tourism and lifestyle.

The Northern Territory Government should not let the cotton industry take hold in the Top End or weaken water and environmental safeguards, the Environment Centre NT warned today.

“As we all get on with the job of rebuilding our economy for Territorians, we must ensure that we protect the Northern Territory’s most valuable assets – our water, our living rivers and floodplains,” said Kirsty Howey, Co-Director of the Environment Centre NT.

The Environment Centre NT have today taken out a full page ad in the NT News (below) to raise awareness of the risk posed from industry water extraction proposals driven by a rush towards a large-scale cotton industry.

“Territorians can see the risk posed by Big Cotton in the Top End, including major impacts to the environment and degradation of our everyday enjoyment of our iconic rivers. This is an unsustainable industry that benefits very few and does not create large numbers of local jobs.”

“It’s been worrying to see huge water figures thrown around by large agricultural industries, with cotton at its core. These plans are totally out of step with community expectations of protecting our water and our lifestyle. The volume of water that industry has its eyes on - 520 billion litres by their own documents - far exceeds existing water allocation limits across the entire region.”

“Where are 520 billion litres of extra water supposed to come from?”

“The community is rightly concerned that Big Cotton will keep pushing to build projects on the back of attempts to weaken safeguards and exploit large gaps in regulations.”

“It’s the thin edge of the wedge. Once mass irrigated cotton has a foothold in the Top End, they’ll keep pushing for more and more water to be taken from our river systems. That will crowd out other crops, threaten barramundi fishing, and damage the Territory way of life for good.”

“It has been encouraging to hear industry pull back from their calls for taxpayers to fund this destructive industry in the NT. But the risk remains if large-scale operations are allowed to bulldoze bushland and take billions of litres of water beyond what our rivers and floodplains can handle.”

“We can’t let our iconic rivers like the Daly and Roper be degraded and destroyed as has happened to the Darling River, and other rivers in southern Australia. What the Territory needs right now is sensible, sustainable strategies for jobs and better protections to build our future - not massive water thirsty projects or weakened safeguards that could wreck our rivers,” she concluded.

Contact: Kirsty Howey - 0488 928 811

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