We are concerned that changes to the Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan (ASWAP) as prescribed by Councillor Steve Brown are being developed in Darwin, out of sight and mind of Alice Springs residents.
The ASWAP has been sitting in Draft form for more than 15 months since Councillor Brown called for an end to the extraction ‘cap’.
The plan was developed with the community through a series of workshops in from 2005 – 2007 to establish a framework for the plan. The ASWAP provided an example of sustainable water policy and was considered ‘best practice’ under the now scrapped, National Water Initiative.
The plan was broadly supported by the Alice Springs Water Advisory Committee and the wider community. The ‘cap’ played a strong role in creating a need for demand management programs to increase the productive use of water through government-funded programs such as Alice Water Smart.
On March 22, World Water Day 2013, Minister Westra Van Holthe launched the Draft plan at an Alice Water Smart event on the Alice Springs Town Council Lawns.
Less than a week later, Councillor Brown was savaging the plan both publicly and behind closed doors claiming that the ‘cap’ was causing the town to ‘stagnant’.
This is an abominable breach of process where a Councillor uses his access to the Ministers to lobby for the extraction cap to be removed without having attended a single committee meeting.
While ALEC welcomes the recruitment of a water planner and wishes them all the best for its development, this is another job gone to Darwin rather than Alice Springs and Councillor Brown needs to take responsibility for that.
Standing cross armed and saying all sorts of wrong things is not an approach to developing sound water policy. Inclusive, community processes builds a sense of ownership over the plan and ensures it is for the development of all and not just CLP members.
ALEC invites concerned community members to write to the Minister and request a say on the development of the Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan. We don’t want another Stylo Station scenario down here.
Currently, there is no plan by the Department of Land Resource Management to consult the Alice Springs community in the development of the draft water allocation plan.
Jimmy Cocking (pictured)
Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC)