There has not been any new water storage infrastructure built in the NT in over 40 years. We have one of the highest rainfalls yet at the same time, the least capacity to catch and store water.
Three years ago, I announced $2 million from the Federal Government to fund a detailed business case for water storage options.
The Northern Territory Government decided to use the funds to compare two options.
• Option 1: Adelaide River Off-stream Water Storage (AROWS) and Manton Dam Return to Service (RTS) which can provide water for a range of use over the next 50+ years, and
• Option 2: Desalination and recycled water which can enable industry development in the short term (up to 10 years) at the proposed Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct.
This study, which took three years and cost $2 million, found that option 1 above would cost $1,686 per ML, and option 2 $4,738 per ML. Not surprisingly they chose option 1 and the following was the recommendation.
• Stage 1: Manton Dam Return to Service – short-term water supply with a development timeframe of three to four years, and
• Stage 2: AROWS – long-term water supply, with a development timeframe of seven to 10 years.
The problem is that comparing option 1 and 2 is like comparing racing a lawn mower against a Ferrari or eating a filet steak verses a piece of cardboard.
I could have saved the NT Government $2 million and three years by telling them straight up that option 1 was far superior to option 2, anyone could have told them that really.
Why weren’t other viable options put up against option 1, such as dams on the Finniss, Adelaide, Mary and Wildman Rivers?
Each of the locations has advantages and disadvantages. We will never know how they would have stacked up against the chosen option because they weren’t even considered.
There is a $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund, that we are not getting our share of because the NTG has been derelict in its duty to provide for the future of Territorians.
I just want to see a new dam built on the best possible site to produce the best possible result. I also want to undertake other water storage projects throughout the NT such as aquifer recharge and multiple smaller dams on agricultural properties.
Water is vital for almost every aspect of our lives including domestic use, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, recreation and the environment.
We cannot increase our population or develop economically if we do not increase our water storage options.
There will never be a cheaper time than now to build new dams.