TheDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released two waterallocation plans for public comment the draft Oolloo Dolostone AquiferWater Allocation Plan 2019-2029 and draft Katherine Tindall Limestone AquiferWater Allocation Plan 2019-2029.
DENRWater Planning and Engagement Director, Tim Bond, said both draft Plan areasare within the Daly Roper Beetaloo Water Control District and, while thePlanslans relate to different groundwater resources, the aquifer boundaries andmanagement of surface water overlap.
Thedraft Oolloo Plan is the first for that aquifer whereas the draft KatherinePlan is proposed to renew the existing Plan which expires on 19 August 2019,Mr Bond said.
WaterAllocation Plans are statutory documents that provide guidance around the rulesand arrangements for sharing water.
Thedraft plans were developed in consultation with two local water advisorycommittees with the public now given until 15 July 2019 to provide comment on eachplan.
Bothplans aim to ensure water resources are managed in a way that protects andmaintains environmental and cultural values while allowing water to besustainably used for consumptive beneficial uses.
TheKatherine and Douglas Daly regions play a vital economic role with industriessuch as agriculture and horticulture reliant on secure water for irrigation andcompeting uses are what underpin the draft plans.
Waterdischarging from the Katherine Tindall Limestone Aquifer and the OollooDolostone Aquifer is the major source of water for the Katherine and DalyRivers during the dry season.
Strongflows in the Daly and Katherine Rivers support important recreational fishingand tourism and provide the life blood to Katherine, the lower Daly and broaderregional communities.
Tourismand agribusiness in the region, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to theTerritorys economy, rely on water from these aquifers and this take must besustainably managed.
Thedraft Katherine and Oolloo plans will become statutory documents which provideguidance around the rules and arrangements for sharing water.
Oncea plan is declared trade can occur in that plan area providing a means forincreased water availability, Mr Bond said.
Aplan doesnt operate at the level of individual licences and cant enforcechanges to licence conditions.
Thedraft Katherine plan indicates that the system is over allocated but recognisesthat more detailed work on environmental and cultural flow requirements isneeded to establish a sustainable level of use.
Thedraft Oolloo plan indicates the system is close to full allocation but water isstill available for allocation through the Strategic Aboriginal Water Reserve.
Thedraft Oolloo Plan also proposes new protections for springs and areas ofcultural and environmental significance.