Submission on the Draft Surface Water Take – Wet Season Flows Policy.

To: Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, Environment Minister Lauren Moss

I am very concerned about the future of our rivers and their floodplains. These great Territory rivers underpin our lifestyle, tourism industry and cultural heritage.

The health of our rivers is at stake with the decisions we make today. Healthy floodplains equal healthy rivers. Wet season flows power the natural cycle of our river systems. I’m concerned that some industry proposals include plans to take billions of litres of water from our rivers and floodplains in the wet season. Industry plans to take up to 520 billion litres of water from the Douglas-Daly (NT Farmers Association Plant Industries Economic Impact Analysis 2020) is a recipe for disaster for the region. 

Very soon, the NT Government will be making decisions on a proposed ‘surface water take - wet season flows’ policy and an ‘interference with a waterway’ policy. These decisions will affect the future of our floodplains and iconic Territory rivers - a decision that Territorians want the Government to get right from the start. 

That’s why I’m calling on the NT Government to reject this policy and guideline, and instead strengthen protections for our rivers and floodplains. This means ensuring no more water is taken from these systems beyond current levels and guaranteeing our rivers and floodplains will remain healthy for our future.              

If dams or other structures are built that stop billions of litres of water from reaching our rivers and aquifers, we put at risk: endangered species, tourism businesses, fishing and the future of iconic Territory rivers. 

We’ve seen the disastrous impacts when the promises of ‘floodplain harvesting’ go wrong on the Murray-Darling River. It would be a huge mistake to repeat them in the Territory. Any policy that puts our rivers at risk is one that Territorians who care about our rivers, fishing and communities are concerned about. Healthy rivers are central to our Territory way of life, the great NT fishing experience and jobs. 

I urge you to guarantee the health of our rivers and floodplains. This starts with listening to communities who want to see strengthened protections for our rivers and floodplains, no extra water to be taken from these river systems and a guarantee to Territorians that our floodplains will remain healthy into the future.