Bore ban mooted in arid NT
Northern Territory aquifers are being drained at a concerning rate, leading some to suggest a ban on new bores.
New signs are beginning to appear around Darwin’s rural fringe showing predicted groundwater levels, to give locals a rough idea of how much water their bores contain.
Authorities say about 750 bores could be affected by the low aquifer levels.
The NT Department of Land Resource Management says a control order to stop new bores from being built is being considered.
Forecasts made earlier this year suggested around 23 per cent of Darwin's rural bores could run dry due to a poor wet season. Even now that the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted decent rains later this year, it is unlikely that the long term trend of falling water levels in aquifers will change.
NT’s Power and Water Corporation uses bore water to supplement Darwin's urban water supply, leading to many complain that it is to blame for the drop in aquifer levels.
Senior manager of water monitoring at the Department of Land Resource Management, Simon Cruikshank, says the department is not to blame.
“Power and Water currently take - they have a licence for - eight gigalitres of water per year, and they are currently taking about six gigalitres ... that represents about 20 per cent of the resource,” Mr Cruikshank said.
“There is another 20 per cent which is being taken by licence users, predominantly horticultural users, then the remaining 60 per cent are unlicensed, which means that they are stock and domestic users.
“By far the largest proportion of users is private land owners and this is totally a community issue and it needs a community response.”
He said a lot of water users appear to be uninformed, and take far more water than they need.
“The water usage, particularly from stock and domestic perspective is, from a national point of view ... is just off the scale,” he said.
A number of rural and regional politicians have complained that there should be better long term planning for if the bores do run dry.