The Northern Territory Government has passed the Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, which is the single largest reform of the Water Act since 1992.
The changes will ensure that the requirement for water licensing, and permits to access water resources, will apply to mining and petroleum activities for the first time, meaning they will be regulated in the same way as other water users.
Other amendments include updating offences and penalties for compliance, and bringing them into alignment with national water industry best practice.
The amendments also support delivery of one of the 135 recommendations in the Final Report of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler, said, “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.
“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.
“Territorians want and deserve a Government they can trust and these changes to the Water Act fulfil a key election promise of the Territory Labor Government.”
Lauren Butler is the assistant editor for Utility Magazine. She’s based in Melbourne, Australia.