By ERWIN CHLANDA
Projects such as such as the Kilgariff suburb and the Melanka apartment complex, as well as the ongoing debate about new horticulture, are sure to put the cap on water use back on the agenda.
This time the Environmental Defenders Office NT (EDONT) may take part in the debate, making this appeal to the town: Don’t use more water than you know you have.
Says the group’s principal lawyer, David Morris (pictured): “We should not raise the cap without scientific knowledge” of the reserve.
He says of course that can be taken as an appeal for stepped-up approach to obtaining baseline data for this “most important resource of the region” so that industry and primary production can grow in a sustainable manner.
Mr Morris says mining, whose use of water is currently not subject to the Water Act, is a huge potential user, especially if fracking is introduced to local gas production.
Mr Morris was also concerned about the ability of the community to appeal decisions made in relation to licences issued under the Water Act stating that “merits appeal rights for the community are conspicuous by their absence”.
The Darwin-based EDONT will operate for a week from the Arid Lands Environment Centre in Alice Springs from April 3, to raise its profile in The Centre.
The not-for-profit legal centre has its own problems: A Federal grant of $1.2m over four years was chopped from December last year with EDONT receiving just $150,000. The remainder of all Commonwealth funding will cease on 30 June.
Mr Morris says it will be a challenge to keep the group going which gives legal advice to community based NGOs, individuals, traditional owners and community groups on public interest environmental issues.
He says EDONT has “a few irons in the fire” for future funding, possibly in connection with universities and philanthropists.
An application has been made to NT Government but Justice Minister John Elferink has not been encouraging, referring to “tough times”.
By ERWIN CHLANDA