A powerful indigenous land council has urged the Northern Territory government to stop issuing licenses for groundwater extraction in parts of central Australia.
The Central Land Council says the water allocation plan for the Western Davenport area, north of Alice Springs, needs to be reviewed.
“We are very concerned about the risk of groundwater over-allocation,” Chief Executive Officer Lesley Turner said Tuesday.
He said licenses to extract more than 51 billion liters of water per year had already been granted and there was a risk that two more would be granted to pump an additional nine billion liters.
“If granted as well, the 60 billion liters that are currently estimated to be available would be almost fully used,” Turner said.
“It is an unacceptable risk.”
The CLC said the NT water controller should deny new water permit applications in the interest of traditional owners in the area until a new plan based on a conservative estimate of water availability. water is in place.
“Their cultural connections and responsibilities to the plants, animals and sacred sites supported by this groundwater are at stake, as are the emerging small Indigenous horticultural businesses,” said Turner.
The call comes after a massive horticulture project at the Singleton breeding station, about 380 kilometers north of Alice Springs, was given the green light in November to extract 40 billion liters of groundwater per year from the same aquifer.
The Northern Territory government reviewed the permit after indigenous groups and environmentalists expressed concerns in April about the potential impact of pumping so much water from the aquifer.
An independent panel considered that the decision to grant the license was largely correct, however, it suggested some additional license conditions.
About 90 percent of NT’s water supply comes from groundwater.