Darwin rural aquifers vastly over-allocated with water licences declined

2021-05-13

Ken Jones’ plans to develop his 300-hectare block in Darwin’s rural area into a vegetable farm have been dashed after his application to secure water from an aquifer under his land was denied.

He had hoped to employ up to 50 people during the peak harvest time and deliver fresh food to markets across Australia.

But 12 months after applying for a licence to extract groundwater to irrigate his future crops, he was told the aquifer under his land was over-allocated.

It was a rare decision by Top End water management after long stretches of little or no water resource regulation.

The area is home to almost a quarter of Australia’s mango crop as well as watermelon farms, Asian vegetable farms and Australia’s biggest barramundi farm.

So what do decisions like this mean for the future of agricultural development in the region?

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ABC Rural, 13 May 2021
; https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2021-05-13/darwin-rural-water-aquifer-agricultural-development/100116664