Desert water worries
“I remain concerned about the risk to our water” ARALUEN MLA ROBYN LAMBLEY
ALICE Springs residents and politicians have reacted with a mixture of fear and anger over the lifting of the ban.
Environmentalist and Alice Springs Councillor Jimmy Cocking has concerns for the town’s water supply when fracking begins..
This is despite the NT Government saying it has drawn a fracking exclusion zone around the Central Australian town. “What’s being said publicly is that they’d reserve town boundaries, so municipal boundaries for Alice Springs would be off limits,” he said.
“But we actually source our water from the bore field which is outside of the municipal area. The aquifer is outside of the municipal area, so our concern is that there isn’t a reserve over the Mereenie Aquifer where we source our water from. This gives rise to potential risks for contamination should fracking proceed in that area.”
Mr Cocking said he would like to see the aquifer excluded from the fracking zone. “We’ve also got concerns, particularly for the people who live out in the remote areas who don’t have any potential restrictions, who will be at risk of having frack fields just next door,” he said. “And the small pockets of communities and station people living on stations who won’t necessarily have the protections afforded to more urban residents.
“So we want to see a bit more detail about what’s happening here. We’re obviously quite dismayed by the decision. We think that the moratorium should have been continued until these baseline studies were done.
“Six months is not enough time to get that baseline data to minimise the risks.
“We know how slow policy processes are and getting the right regulations. It takes a long time for these processes and six months is not going to cut it. The ‘frack and see’ approach is not the way to do this.”
Araluen MLA Robyn Lambley said she felt very strongly that baseline assessments needed to be undertaken in all arid regions of the NT before any exploration or production recommences. “The final report recommended that SREBAs (Sustainable Regional Environmental Baseline Assessments) be undertaken before ‘production’ commences. These baseline assessments take two to five years to complete.
“I remain concerned about the risk to our sole water supply in Central Australia, no matter how low the risk might be. In other parts of the NT with a range of water supplies, this issue is not as critical.”
Concerned Alice Springs residents will be gathering today at the Uniting Church lawns.