Our Water Wars Webinar brings together three of the country’s top water experts to speak about the NT Government's Georgina Wiso Water Allocation Plan, facilitated by our Executive Director, Kirsty Howey.
The recording of the presentation can be found here. We’d like to take this opportunity to advise that Professor Sue Jackson and Professor Matthew Currell have secured an important grant from the Australian Research Council to undertake groundbreaking research into the sustainable co-management of groundwater in the Beetaloo Basin. This grant was won in a collaborative pitch between the researchers, ECNT and the Northern Land Council. The research will commence next year.
In extraordinary news, on the afternoon of the meeting we were advised that the Greens, Independents and Labor had struck a deal to expand the water trigger to fracking. This ensures much needed federal protection of our precious waterways from the dangerous impacts of fracking. This major win is the result of 10 years of campaigning by communities across the Northern Territory, and direct petitioning of federal politicians by Traditional Owners and many community members in Canberra in recent months. Congratulations to all of you who fought so hard. Finally, you are being heard.
We can’t stop here, of course. Our waterways are under threat from dangerous allocations proposed to be made to facilitate fracking, cotton and mining. We will be in touch with ways you can get involved in the campaign to protect the Territory’s rivers and waterways in the very near future.
The Georgina Wiso Water Allocation Plan is the largest single water allocation in the NT’s history, and allocates 1.68 trillion litres of water (210 billion litres of water per year over 8 years) to industry from an aquifer that keeps the Roper and Daly Rivers flowing. The plan paves the way for development and expansion of fracking and cotton farming in the region.
The controversial draft plan was heavily criticised when released for public comment in late 2022, with 18 water experts from across the nation extraordinarily writing to the Chief Minister to ask her to stop the plan’s declaration and put a moratorium on water licences. These experts included Professor Sue Jackson, Professor Barry Hart, Professor Quentin Grafton, Professor Marcia Langton, Professor Richard Kingsford, and Professor Anne Poelina.
A 2022 report by Professor Matthew Currell and Dr Christopher Ndehedehe stated that the draft Georgina Wiso Water Allocation Plan could endanger the NT’s iconic rivers, springs, aquifers and billabongs, as well as numerous sacred sites.
In addition, the government’s own scientific advice warned that significant allocations from the aquifer could cause the iconic Roper River to stop flowing by changing the direction of flow of the aquifer that discharges into it. Since submissions closed in late December 2022, there has been no formal response from the government to these concerns. The water allocation plan was not developed by water advisory committees in accordance with usual NT Government practice, and the National Water Initiative. It incorporates environmental baseline studies which were recently found to have “critical knowledge and data gaps” by Professor Matthew Currell.