By ERWIN CHLANDA
Alice Springs based water planner Anne Pye says she was told to “remove the cap from the Alice water plan on the basis of comments from Darwin based political advisers and Darwin bureaucrats”.
Ms Pye, who has taken a job with the Central Land Council, stated this is a “final farewell” email to 47 colleagues and acquaintances which was leaked by a third party to the Alice Springs News Online.
The change of the cap, from 300 years of assured supply to 200 years, caused heated debate recently.
“I have resigned because it is becoming impossible to see the benefits of my work,” wrote Ms Pye.
“Procedures and systems are not in place” for proper water planning in the NT.
“After six months before the last election of nothing happening because the ALP was terrified of doing anything – to be followed by the current handing out of water licences to all comers, manipulation of data to justify allocation of the resource and disdain shown for community consultation.
“I am also rather dismayed that I have not even left and I have been told the powers that be are already talking about moving my position to Darwin.”
Ms Pye sees such a move as going against not only the interests of Central Australia but the commitment of the CLP government to “shifting the focus outside of Darwin”.
The News attempted to speak directly with Ms Pye but understands that she is travelling in a remote area. She has so far not responded to our message.
UPDATE 1:30am JULY 13:
Minister Willem Westra van Holthe has provided the following response:-
The Territory Government is currently progressing a comprehensive framework of water allocation planning in the Territory. There are extensive procedures and systems in place for both water allocation planning and water extraction licensing.
The Controller of Water Resources makes decisions as to water extraction licences. The controller is informed by the Department of Land Resource Management, the best available science and models and by community comment on water extraction licence applications.
The Department strongly refutes any allegation that it is manipulating data to support the issuing of water extraction licences; it is constantly updating its modeling based on the latest scientific research and understanding. Recent refinement of the model for the Tindall Limestone Aquifer at Mataranka has indicated that there is more water currently available for allocation than previously believed.
The Territory Government is undertaking extensive community consultation with respect to water allocation planning and water extraction licensing across the Territory. Community led Water Advisory Committees are in place to inform all water allocation plans currently in progress.
Removal of the cap from the Alice Springs Water Resource Strategy was suggested through community consultation, with the Department taking on board this suggestion.
While the Department has discussed the options for filling Ms Pye’s position, no decision has been taken as yet. There is no intention to reduce the Department’s focus or support for the Southern region.
By ERWIN CHLANDA