Saturday, June 15, 2024

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HomeIssue 5Water for growth doubted in govt draft

Water for growth doubted in govt draft

p1908warrabrialicurungprod2By ERWIN CHLANDA
There seems to be little spare water for uses other than supplying the town, at its present rate of consumption, according to the NT Government’s Draft Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan 2013-2018. It was discussed at a meeting yesterday, and leaked to the Alice Springs News Online.
The document says because of the almost total absence of surface water, groundwater is the “primary consumptive water resource” to be used as public supply.
The most significant source is the Amadeus basin, “estimated” to contain 4800 gigaliters (GL), containing “total dissolved solids (TDS) of less than 1000 mg/l”.
That is twice as much solids as the desirable concentration (500 mg/l) for use in major communities.
This water is estimated to be between 10,000 and 30,000 years old, has “minimal recharge” and as such is “considered a non-renewable resource,” says the draft.
“Allocations from the Amadeus Basin Auquifers shall not exceed a volume more than 25% of the estimated total aquifer storage over 100 year,” it says.
That means we have 1,200 GL available over the next 100 years. The town uses 10 GL a year. That leaves 2 GL for horticulture, one of which is already allocated to the Hayes family vineyard at Rocky Hill.
No further information was available from the government.
PHOTO: Ali Curung watermelon plantation some 400 km north of Alice Springs – should horticulture be drawing water from the Amadeus basin?


  1. I’m puzzled at your claim Erwin that the draft of the Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan was “leaked” to you?
    It was made quite clear to us at the end of the meeting yesterday that there were no restrictions on the document, and that we could show it to whoever we liked. Once I recieve an e copy as we were promised, I will be passing on to quite a few people.
    I’m also concerned that such an incorrect comment infers that there is someone on the committee “untrustworthy”, which I for one would hope there isn’t.
    [ED – You might be happy to get your e-copy when the government is good and ready. I wanted a copy today and I got it.]

  2. Yeh Erwin, Hayes are applying for water out of the consumptive pool of water between 500 and 1000 mg/l above not the 500 or below.
    The allocation they are applying for has been an allocation in the water plan all along with the absolute intention of applying it to this usage.
    Let’s not try and give a completely false impression to Alicespringites that some how or other their drinking supply is under threat. It is not!
    At times I really struggle with the small minded doomsayers attitudes that come to the fore every time discussions is raised around our water supply.
    For Goodness sake, try and understand that Alice has a water supply guarantee far better than just about any where! All without doing anything! Bloody hell Adelaide, was completely running out of water to drive their growth not that many years ago they simply used their ingenuity and ran a pipeline to the Murray to get more and believe me that supply is far less guaranteed than ours. But onward s grows Adelaide including all their supporting agriculture!
    Look at it this way, presently we have a couple of big tanks of water if we divide them up properly they will last us hundreds of years, allowing for a .4% growth Rrate and supporting a small horticultural and industrial sector!
    And that’s even if we don’t make any effort to top those tanks up from other sources! Which by the way there are plenty of.
    Now, if we were to get off our proverbials, do the research, develop the alternatives and top up those tanks, we could also be developing a sustained income earning job producing life sustaining horticulture industry!
    However much of the commentary around this subject leads me to suspect we are just to comfortable sitting on our proverbial, bludging off the ingenuity of other Australians through their overly generous GST donations at 5.5 times what the rest get!
    One of these days they are going to wake up to the fact that they are simply creating a lot of fat, unadventurous bludgers sitting on proverbials and cut us off.
    I’m beginning to suspect that that might be the single best outcome for the Territories future driving out the trash and forcing us to return to the strength guts an ingenuity that drove our early development!
    I fully support the development of this town and necessary supporting industry including horticulture. And I say we should get off our backsides and go out there and find the resources that will enable us to do just that!
    Failure to do so will bring about hundreds of years extension to our aquifers life because sadly no one will be here to make use of it.
    That is until some water hungry city like Adelaide sniffs it out and takes it away in the national interest!
    Claiming a return on previous wasted GST investments! Use it or lose it! Honestly you would never know we were one of the world’s last pioneering communities. I often think we are more like the dentist and hairdresser led reestablishment of human life on another planet as portrayed in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Have a look you’ll see what I mean.

  3. Hi Steve, don’t shoot the messenger. I am quoting from the NT Government’s draft report.

  4. I have noticed that they don’t say how much of that water is allocated for mining now and in the future. Mmmm. I’m sure that if you add those allocations you will find we run out a hell of a lot earlier. And of course the government will keep giving them water, even if the town runs out.

  5. Oops, sorry Erwin, my tirade was not actually directed against you.
    I’m just sick to death at attitudes that always find the bleak and negative as opposed to looking at the enormous hope and opportunity this region and its water supply has on offer.
    Just like spoiled brats at Christmas, being given everything but always looking for more, no appreciation of the world at their feet, of what’s been given.
    Can you imagine the excitement in Adelaide if you told them they had 360 years water supply! Wake up community, smell the roses!

  6. Aiming for maximum re-use of current consumption seems a good place to start rather than pumping more out of the basin.
    You are right Steve that Alice Springs water supply is more assured than many places around Australia and the world.
    However, it is being consumed and measures should be put in place before we find ourselves in a crisis – not when.

  7. Does the treated water from the sewerage ponds not get a mention in this analysis?
    If the Hayes family were to take up the presumably still-available offer of using this for their agricultural purpose, would they not be likely to get support from all quarters?

  8. I’m hoping one of the water committee members can answer this: How much is paid by commercial interests for their water allocation? I imagine the 1Gl allocated to Rocky Hill costs them a fair bit.


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