In an effort to shore up water security for remote communities in the Northern Territory, the Federal and Territory Governments are investing $53.1 million in the development of a number of water supply projects. 

In Maningrida, the two governments are investing $21 million for three infrastructure upgrades to increase the reliability of the local water supply network. This work will increase water storage capacity via the construction of a water tank, new pipes to move the water from the water storage to the community and upgrades to the water network.

On the Gove Peninsula $8.9 million is being invested which will upgrade a water pipeline in Yirrkala – to save water that is currently being lost – and includes a water infrastructure assessment for Gunyangara to identify water infrastructure needs.

In Numbulwar the governments are investing $3.2 million in planning and investigation work, such as investigative drilling, to identify new water supplies.

The Federal Government has said that these projects are an important step in its $150 million investment to make sure remote First Nations communities have access to clean drinking water.

It follows the $26.7 million funding previously announced for Yuendumu and Milingimbi, where work on these projects has also created numerous economic and community benefits including the ability to build much-needed new housing.

The governments have also said that reliable water is vital for tourism and economic development, which is why in Yulara they are together investing $18.2 million, along with $5 million from Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, to construct the Yulara Water Supply project.

The project will provide water security for what is the primary service centre for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the wider Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara regions.

The Federal Government is also investing $1.8 million towards science and research projects to help plan for future water management.

Northern Territory Minister for Essential Services, Kate Worden, said that providing secure and reliable water supply to these regional and remote areas will improve the quality of life for many Aboriginal Territorians.

“Water is an incredibly important resource for Territorians and plays a part in the Territory Government’s plan to develop our economy to $40 billion by 2030,” Ms Worden said. 

“We can make these investments into our water infrastructure because these assets are owned by Territorians.” 

Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, said that in a country like Australia, there are things that most of us take for granted, like having access to safe drinking water at home just by turning the tap. 

“For more than 25,000 people in remote Australia, that isn’t the case,” Ms Plibersek said. 

“These Australians live in places without access to water that meets basic health guidelines. And another 600,000 people live in places without access to water that meets recognised standards – relying on water that’s murky, or contains unsafe levels of minerals, heavy metals and chemicals.

“This is simply not okay. That’s why we’re investing in projects to deliver critical water infrastructure projects in First Nations remote communities.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to Close the Gap on water security, and we cannot do it alone.

“That’s why our government is working closely with our state and territory partners and First Nations organisations and representatives across the nation to identify, plan and deliver water security projects.”

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