The Northern Territory Government has released the Surface Water Intake – Wet Season Flows Policy, which is set to provide protection to the territory’s waterways and certainty around water use for industry, landholders and anglers. 

The policy provides guidance to industry about access to wet season flows, and a pathway for responsible and sustainable economic development. 

The policy is precautionary, reducing the volume of water otherwise available under existing policy from 20 per cent to less than five per cent of wet season flows in Top End rivers. Alternatively, a safe volume may be specified by a water allocation plan, based on scientific evidence.

The policy calculates the amount of water available based on dry conditions and does not allow water to be taken in the driest years, through setting minimum flow conditions in licences.

The Interference with a Waterway Guideline operates with this policy to ensure that infrastructure required for surface water taken in the wet season is considered at the same time.

The Territory Government said that it has and will continue to modernise its laws, regulations, policies and licences to protect the diverse and complex environment.

Northern Territory Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security, Kate Worden, said that water is one of the Territory’s greatest assets. 

“While water must be protected, its importance as a resource and the role it can play to develop our economy must be harnessed in a sustainable way,” Ms Worden said. 

“This policy provides the right balance between supporting industry and protecting waterways, by giving certainty around surface water usage that does not compromise environmental and cultural values.

“The management of water resources will help industry continue to thrive as we work towards building a $40 billion economy by 2030.”

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