Desert wa­ter wor­ries

NT News - - NEWS - DAVID LORNIE

“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.

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