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Why we need a Safe Drinking Water Act in the NT

Safe drinking water is fundamental for maintaining public health and supporting healthy communities.  ALEC’s review of the regulatory framework surrounding water use in the Northern Territory revealed an inadequate system unable to address the most serious water security issues facing our region. There is an unacceptable lack of protection for safe drinking water across the NT and a discriminatory system which disproportionately impacts bush communities.

Read our full water reform submission here

An unequal system

A lack of legally enforceable rights to safe drinking water means some remote communities are being supplied with contaminated water, a failure which largely impacts on the health and wellbeing of the Territory’s Indigenous population.  

Contaminated drinking water is not an isolated issue in the NT as routine testing has shown. It is an urgent issue the NT Government must address through legislation.

Water handouts for industry

Under the current system, water intensive industries including fracking and agriculture receive free water from the government while some communities are paying for unsafe water. Competing demands for water from these industries often comes at the cost of public drinking water supply. 

“It’s unjust that a fracking company has access to at least 30 million litres of water per frack for free, while the public have nothing in law that guarantees we will have a future drinking water supply.” 

Australia is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) but until we make some serious changes, we will be unable to meet our commitment to achieving SDG Goal 6, which is about ensuring all Australians have equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water,” Jimmy Cocking, ALEC CEO.

We need a Safe Drinking Water Act

Without a strategic overarching vision for how water in the NT will be properly managed, the government will be unable to guarantee water security and supply for communities facing water stress now and in the future.

ALEC will continue to build alliances in its water advocacy and supports the demand to Government from the four Northern Territory land councils for a Safe Drinking Water Act that provides regulatory protection and accountability for the safe and adequate water for all.

More information

Push for stronger NT water security laws ahead of looming election, ABC article

Residents of remote NT community of Laramba lose legal battle over uranium in water, ABC article

NT Land Councils: election must be a watershed for protection of remote drinking supply, Central Land Council

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