Growth, growth, growth … we have had a growth rate …

Comment on Council wants more time to respond to water plan by Jimmy Cocking.

Growth, growth, growth … we have had a growth rate of 1% for a while now and it’s got nothing to do with the ‘cap’ on water. We are experiencing the slowdown that has been termed the Great Recession in other parts of the world. Please stop looking for someone or something to blame for this. The reason we’re in this mess is because of unsustainable economic growth due largely to greed, speculative markets and a growth at all costs mentality which crashed into a wall of debt in 2008-09.
Water is our most precious resource out here, more than gas, oil or gold.
Long term management of water, sustainable development – note that word – sustainable – for the long term. Not just for now, not just for the next generation but for the long term. We have for the last decade or so been the nation’s highest, to second highest users of water per capita. Yes it’s because it’s hot and dry out here but there is so much being wasted through leaks and inappropriate garden watering regimes.
The cap is there as a target for Power and Water Corporation to try to remain under. This is in all of our interests. Why should we just have a free for all, especially when so much is going to waste? I for one think that the Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan http://lrm.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/146173/Draft-ASWAP_Release-for-Public-Comment.pdf is the single most comprehensive document detailing the Alice Springs Water Story.
It is a credit to the public servants who created it. Why was it not up on the Alice Springs Town Council website? It was launched on the Council lawns on World Water Day, March 22, four weeks ago! It could form part of the residents packs so newcomers and residents alike can learn our water story. Maybe?
The ‘cap’ that you constantly refer to is there to drive innovation and resource efficiency. Why would we not have a cap? I think your assertions blaming the cap for stagnating growth are alarmist at best. According to the document only about 2/3 of the licensed amount was reached in 2011-12, this doesn’t seem like much of a limiting factor to me.
I agree with you that we should be exploring other options so that we know exactly where the next bore field may be but attacking responsible public policy is not the way to do it. We are mining our aquifer, it is going down a metre or so per year – adding to the costs of pumping and delivering the water to our taps.
Having a conservative water extraction target is responsible public policy. We’re talking about 10-30000 year old water, it is that old because it replenishes very, very slowly. Reducing demand by increasing efficiency is another step forward. Removing exemptions for mining, gas and petroleum activities under the Water Act are necessary. This would show commitment to the lives of Territorians for the long-term rather than propping up the short-term profits of mining, gas and petroleum companies that have little to no commitment to the Territory’s natural assets, except to get them out of the ground and off to market.
The current trajectory of ‘business interests at all costs’ is likely to lead to long term legacies of groundwater pollution, contribute to climate chaos and leave dirty, gassy holes throughout the NT (especially with the appallingly low environmental bonds being requested by the Mining Department). That’s scary … much more frightening than an achieveable target of 10.7GL for public water extraction from the Mereenie aquifer.
I look forward to working with you on the Alice Springs Water Advisory Committee this year Steve, it will be great to have another member on the committee who also cares passionately about our water now and into the future.

Recent Comments by Jimmy Cocking

Fracking key to immense NT resource wealth: Santos
@ Hal: A senseless response to a serious issue. The remaining sludge is not useful for anything except being disposed of, there is no “de-risking” of this industry, only management thereof.

Domestic prices will increase as gas is sold on the international market. The US sensibly has policies to protect its domestic reserve. Australia has none.
Therefore, Aussie gas will go global and domestic prices will go astronomical. If the politicians actually cared about us – we would have a sovereign wealth fund to support future generations rather than being frittered away as general revenue from royalties.
Also, note that there is a long way to go here. The NT Government is spending $8m over the next four years for shale gas development – yet all gas companies will still be in the exploration phase which won’t result in any gas being pumped and hence royalties for more than five years. That $8m would be better spent on developing the renewable energy which does have a proven resource.


Climate: bicycles, umbrellas, stirring placards, fuzzy feeling
Climate change is real. It doesn’t matter how journalists and editors try to downplay the seriousness or frame questions to distract from the reality. It is happening.
The rally on the weekend was part of a national response to the Abbott government’s attempts to derail the sensible approaches for Australia to ‘deal’ with the problem.
A price on carbon pollution is essential if we want to reduce emissions. Charging companies money for polluting and placing a cap on total emissions nationally will drive efficiency and innovation in the industrial sectors.
It will also provide funds for the federal government to allocate to increasing the uptake of renewable energy and drive technological breakthroughs that can be exported overseas.
Erwin’s article and his consistent approach to interviewing ALEC staff is always driven towards his own agenda – but that is Erwin’s style. Damming dry river beds and burning rubbish for power are two of Erwin’s suggested solutions from previous editions.
ALEC would like to see the NT Government take a leading role in developing regional adaptation action plans that will take into consideration disaster response plans required to deal with the growing threats from climate change.
These plans would also include aspects of the desertSMART Roadmap http://desertsmartcoolmob.org/current-projects/roadmap-to-a-desertsmart-town/ which would build the resilience of our town to climate change and other challenges.
The rally on the weekend signified that 60000 people across the country care enough about climate change to hit the streets. The movement is building nationally and we really need to thank the Abbott government for waking the population up to the fragility of the gains made under the previous government.
Abbott says he has a mandate to repeal the carbon price. He doesn’t. Abbott didn’t win the election, the ALP lost it due to their public infighting. More than 2/3 of people agree that we need to price carbon to reduce emissions quickly enough. There is plenty of evidence and support for a carbon price from the Australian business community.
Where to from here?
Forwards … going backwards is expensive and creates uncertainty for business and the economy. The movement for climate action is growing and I expect that in coming months that number of people on the streets will grow tenfold in defense of strong climate policies.
I hope the NT Government will step up to take on the challenges rather than the current approach which is supposedly … open for business. Business costs now are cheaper than they will be in the future and averting dangerous climate change is everyone’s business. We need action from all levels of government.
It’s time to get involved, send me an email at info@alec.org.au and I can add you to the climate action list – first meeting on next Thursday November 28.
And lastly, we do need to reduce the evaporation from the sewage ponds. Not by creating a smelly recreational lake or wasting cleaned ‘waste water’ for an evaporation dam.
The water would be better used productively – perhaps there are crops that would serve dual purposes – store carbon and provide other beneficial uses – Dept Primary Industries, Power Water Corporation partnership? – the eucalypts didn’t do so well.
Collaboration – which means working together is how society will navigate through the greatest challenge of this generation. Businesses, the community sector, government and citizens are all partners in the outcome.
I hope that makes sense.


Alice salt mine: new $6m drilling program
Thank you Duncan for your reply … I can inform the public that ALEC expressed the same sentiments and concerns about the exemption of the title in comments to the NT EPA EIS Guidelines for the Chandler project in July and also requested clarification from both Ministers Chandler and Westra Van Holthe and the NT EPA’s Dr. Bill Freeland.
We are yet to receive any correspondence related to these concerns. It is this lack of response that causes ALEC to have less than desired faith in the current approvals process and legislative framework.
Also, it needs to be said that the bulk of the salt to be produced is destined for Asian mining and gas markets where environmental protection is relatively low.
While we appreciate the proposed removal of wastes from the biosphere, please don’t play a righteous card and ignore that your proposed product – the salt will be causing greater environmental harm elsewhere. We only have to look next door in Indonesia to find drilling projects that have gone awry to say the least.
The Sidoarjo mud flow in east Java is a good demonstration of what can go wrong with drilling for oil and gas. Your product would enable more drilling across Asia and potentially contributing to gross environmental damage in the region.
I do get it Duncan, and it is not scaremongering – it is the truth.
I have had these concerns since you briefed me. I asked questions related to this and I appreciate your desire to want to be considered an environmentalist. Clean air, clean water and clean country.
A salt mine in Central Australia contributing to Asia becoming a drill rigs pin cushion? I am not comfortable with that.
I don’t know how you feel about it or have had the displeasure of seeing mining and gas operations in SE Asia but I can tell you – providing a product that facilitates that is not the action of an earth lover.
Jobs, investment etc – is all good and the size of the resource is huge – the questions remain – what is the NT government going to do regarding the exemption that is clearly stated on your Notice Of Intent and ensure that you comply with the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act within the confines of your title (which exempts it)? Still waiting for an answer.


Alice salt mine: new $6m drilling program
Important to remember that the business model for this project is based on the mine site also being a waste repository for longterm storage of potentially hazardous chemicals and waste by-products among other things.
Congratulations to all involved and those awarded contracts – concerns about how the NT Government plans on regulating the waste storage facility when the current legislation exempts Tellus from the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act and the Water Act.
It’s one thing to have a salt mine, it’s another to have a salt mine and toxic waste dump that isn’t currently regulated by any NT laws.


Alice salt mine: new $6m drilling program
Important to remember that the business model for this project is based on the mine site also being a waste repository for longterm storage of potentially hazardous chemicals and waste by-products among other things.
Congratulations to all involved and those awarded contracts – concerns about how the NT Government plans on regulating the waste storage facility when the current legislation exempts Tellus from the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act and the Water Act.
It’s one thing to have a salt mine, it’s another to have a salt mine and toxic waste dump that isn’t currently regulated by any NT laws.


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