The Northern Territory Government has introduced the Water Amendment Bill 2019, aimed at better protecting the state’s water resources and preserving much needed jobs.
This bill addresses some of the key recommendations of the Final Report of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, delivering four of the 135 recommendations.
The amendments fulfil the Territory Government’s commitment to introduce strong environmental protections that support jobs.
A series of proposed amendments within the bill will ensure that the final report recommendations for relevant prohibitions are clearly legislated.
The prohibitions apply to the taking of surface water for petroleum activities, groundwater extraction close to landholder’s bores and the disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste to waterways and aquifers.
The bill will not impede the reuse of wastewater for future hydraulic fracturing operations. This would improve water use efficiency and be managed through the risk assessment process associated with any environment management plan approval. It also won’t prohibit existing wastewater management practices undertaken by conventional petroleum producers.
The introduction of the bill demonstrates the Territory Government is serious about protecting the state’s precious water resources that so many jobs rely on.
Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler, said, “Water is a precious resource and we need to manage it responsibly to ensure its sustainability. Protecting the environment creates jobs — good environmental policy is smart economic policy.
“The sustainable use of the Territory’s water resources is crucial for the health of our rivers, aquifers and water‑dependent ecosystems, and the values that we attribute to them as a community.
“It also crucial to protect the thousands of jobs in the tourism, fishing, cattle and agriculture industries that rely on the health of our water systems.”