By ERWIN CHLANDA
The two arch foes on issues of water management say they are on the same page about the urgent need for exploration of new resources.
Cr Steve Brown (at right) and Jimmy Cocking, CEO of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, also agree that water use policies should not be a tool for restricting the growth of Alice Springs.
They are members of the Alice Springs Water Committee, a government advisory body that met behind closed doors yesterday.
Cr Brown says the government should spend $10m to $15m a year for an indefinite period to drill exploration wells and monitor underground water flows to get a much clearer picture of the local aquifers.
He says the controversial cap on water use discussed in 2013 seems to be without any legislative basis.
It appears the Roe Creek basin, from which the town’s supply is principally drawn, is good for up to another 35 years, after which Rocky Hill can take over.
There is no reason to block increased water use in the next few years, including an expansion of the current small amount of agriculture, so long as the search for further resources is stepped up dramatically.
Mr Cocking (at left) says the outcome of yesterday’s meeting, which considered the government’s next water plan, was “disappointing”.
He says the “cap” is neither legislated nor enforceable, and was meant as an encouragement for more responsible water use.
But for that to work, initiatives such as Cool Mob and Alice Water Smart – both now defunded – need to be in place.
Although water use in the town has been trending downwards, the message of such campaigns is soon forgotten.
The committee will now consider the government’s draft water plan presented yesterday, will seek public comment, and re-convene on April 30. The town council will also consider the draft, says Cr Brown.
The plan is being reviewed every five years.
By ERWIN CHLANDA