The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is implementing new water licensing requirements in rural areas of Darwin, to take into account the removal of exemptions for certain pumping applications.

The new requirements follow the removal of the exemption to the Water Act for bores equipped to pump 15L per second or less in the Darwin Rural Water Control District.

DENR Water Resources Division Executive Director Jo Townsend said the removal of the exemption meant that water use was required to be licensed, except for water used for stock and domestic purposes.

“These arrangements currently apply in all other water control districts of the Northern Territory,” Ms Townsend said.

“The department has been working with the NT Farmers Association to communicate the changes to affected agriculture and horticultural businesses and groups.

“Information has also been sent by letter and email to community groups, local businesses and shires to encourage applications for water licences to be lodged with the department.”

The Darwin rural area has a diverse range of water users covering a number of different industries and businesses ranging from agriculture to tourism to more industrial use in some places.

“We have written to all landowners through each of the three shires and worked with other agencies and stakeholder groups, as well as the offices of MLAs to try to reach as many people as possible,” Ms Townsend said.

“People who are using water for purposes other than stock and domestic use are encouraged to collect information and an application form from the NT Farmers Association office in Coolalinga, their local MLA’s Office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Goyder Building or online.

Ms Townsend said the assessment process had begun for more than 100 applications for licences that have been received so far in the Darwin rural area.

“In consideration of the demand we have received and on request from some applicants and industry groups, including the NT Farmers Association, we have agreed to extend the deadline in which the Department will absorb the licence advertising costs for applications, until 31 December 2016.”

Applications received after 31 December 2016 will still be accepted, but water users who still need to be licensed are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and preferably before December 2016.

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