Top End water under the microscope 


While there may be opportunities in northern Australia to address the water crisis in the south, the Top End should not open itself to the shortcomings of the Murray-Darling Basin and other southern catchments, according to a speaker at Charles Darwin University’s upcoming Symposium on Water in the Top End.

Chair of the Katherine Water Advisory Committee, Anne Shepherd said she believed that a suitable balance of water utilisation by agriculture, industry and the environment was by no means an exact science, but was essential to ensure the longevity of water in the Top End.

“Water management is not simple,” Ms Shepherd said.

“I have a passionate interest in the sustainable management of our water resources and am determined that the Katherine and Daly River systems do not become another Murray Darling.”

Ms Shepherd said the community at large had an enormous spread of views including:

  • Damming the Katherine River
  • Giving unrestricted access to the Top End’s underground water supplies to whoever wants it
  • To reduce dramatically the current water allocations and increasing th e Top End’s environmental flows.

Ms Shepherd said she believed that the answer lay somewhere in the middle.

“Fortunately in the Northern Territory the application of science and common sense seems to be getting results and my view is we are on a path that should avoid the environmental disasters that have occurred in the river systems of other states,” she said.

“The Top End should not be used as an excuse to fail to adequately address critical water supply management problems of southern Australia.”

The Symposium, titled Water in the Top End: Opportunities and Constraints, is designed to generate discussion and debate about the perceived opportunities for and constraints on water use, and whether Top End residents should continue to think of the Northern Territory as a frontier with boundless possibilities.

The Symposium is free to the public and will run from 8.30am to 5pm on Friday, 30 May at CDU’s Casuarina campus.

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