Action item 7.7



25% Complete.
Government approval of policy/process development.

That in relation to the Beetaloo Sub-basin:

  • the Daly-Roper WCD be extended south to include all of the Beetaloo Sub-basin;
  • that WAPs be developed for each of the northern and southern regions of the Beetaloo Sub-basin;
  • the new northern Sub-basin WAP provides for a water allocation rule that restricts the consumptive use to less than that which can be sustainably extracted without having adverse impacts on other users and the environment; and
  • the southern Sub-basin WAP prohibits water extraction for any onshore shale gas production until the nature and extent of the groundwater resource and recharge rates in that area are quantified.

That in relation to other shale gas basins with similar or greater rainfall rates than the Beetaloo Sub-basin, WCDs be declared and WAPs be developed to specify substantial groundwater extraction rates for shale gas production activities that will not have adverse impacts on existing users and the environment.

That in relation to other potential shale gas basins in semi-arid and arid regions, all groundwater extraction for any shale gas production activities be prohibited until there is sufficient information to demonstrate that it will have no adverse impacts on existing users and the environment.

Target completion date

Stage 3.
To be completed by end December 2022.

Reform area
Safeguarding water and the environment
Project action
Assessing, protecting and monitoring water resources
Lead agency
Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security

Action item update

Implementation progress

In July 2018, the (then) Minister for Environment and Natural Resources extended the Daly-Roper Water Control District (WCD) to include the Beetaloo Sub-basin and this has been named the Daly Roper Beetaloo Water Control District. The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security is currently preparing an extension of this Water Control District to the south to include the Georgina Basin and part of the Wiso Basin.

The Department is also preparing to declare a new Water Control District for the area outside of the Daly Roper Beetaloo WCD that covers the McArthur Basin.  This new WCD is proposed to be called the Gulf WCD.

Water Allocation Plans (WAPs) will identify the estimated sustainable yield and total volume of water available for extraction for petroleum and ancillary activities as well as for other beneficial use categories under the Water Act 1992. Water extraction licences will be issued and traded in accordance with guidelines established in WAPs. Water extraction licence conditions can be used to control the rate and volume of extractions and provide for monitoring requirements to be met by licence holders.

Within the WCD, WAPs are a fair and transparent way to allocate water to support development in the Northern Territory and assure the community that key environmental and cultural values associated with water are being met, and water resources are being managed sustainably.

WAPs are being prepared for the Beetaloo sub-basin to enable the onshore gas industry to access groundwater for gas production within sustainable limits and are due for declaration in December 2022.