LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has learned that the recently released Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan is back to the drawing board following comments by Alice Springs Town Councillor Steve Brown in the Alice Springs News Online and the Council Chambers in April.
Brown claimed that having a “cap” on Power and Water Corporation’s extraction from the Mereenie Aquifer would lead to “stagnation” of the town and proceeded to lobby Council and Cabinet for the “cap’” to be removed.
This “cap” is a target that was the result of 10 years of community consultation in developing a Water Allocation Plan. Councillor Brown has come in at the last minute, not participated in the process at all and sent a wrecking ball into what is a great example of long-term resource planning.
The disturbing news was delivered to me in a recent meeting with Department of Land Resource Management Chief Executive, Rod Applegate. In that meeting it was revealed that the Draft Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan launched by Minister Westra van Holthe on World Water Day (March 22) would be re-drafted, with large allocations for industrial purposes – and reduce the current projected life of the aquifer from over 300 years to around 200 years.
Councillor Brown’s lobbying has unwittingly wrested control from the community and placed it in the hands of Darwin-based bureaucrats. The “cap” was a driver of innovation and water efficiency locally, leading to the water recycling plant being built, $7.5 million of Federal funding for the Alice Water Smart program and the continuation of the NT Government’s Waterwise rebate scheme.
This revelation is a slap in the face for water conscious Alice Springs residents who are making significant water and dollar savings in their homes and businesses. There is currently no demand for large-scale industrial use of our water in Alice Springs. The “cap” is not a barrier to business, in the long term, unsustainable water allocation.
Jimmy Cocking (pictured)
Director Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC)
Alice Springs Water Advisory Committee member