23 March 2024

Top End secures more than $50m in federal funding to keep region's water safe

| James Day
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three people looking at project plans in an office

Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek (left) and the NT’s Minister for Essential Services Kate Worden announced the funding boost at the Darwin office of Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec, which will be involved in the water security projects. Photo: Kate Worden MLA/Facebook.

In an announcement by Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek, the government will invest an extra $53.1 million into water security projects for the Northern Territory.

Together with the Territory’s Minister for Essential Services Kate Worden, Ms Plibersek said the funds would help provide safe, reliable and sustainable water sources for more communities across the region.

“In a country like Australia, there are things that most of us take for granted,” Ms Plibersek said. “Like when we turn the tap on at home, safe drinking water will come out.

“But for more than 25,000 people in remote Australia, that isn’t the case. These Australians live in places without access to water that meets basic health guidelines.

“And another 600,000 people live in places without access to water that meets recognised standards – relying on water that’s murky or contains unsafe levels of minerals, heavy metals and chemicals.”

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This funding injection is part of the Commonwealth’s $150 million effort to ensure remote First Nations communities have access to clean drinking water.

It comes after the previously announced $26.7 million commitment to build projects for Yuendumu and Millingimbi, which the government said had provided numerous economic and community benefits. These included the ability to build essential new housing in remote areas, for which the Territory had just received $4 billion.

Ms Worden said water was an incredibly important resource for Territorians, and played a major part in their government’s plan to develop a $40 billion economy by 2030.

“We can make these investments into our water infrastructure because these assets are owned by Territorians,” she said.

“Providing secure and reliable water supply to these regional and remote areas will improve the quality of life for many Aboriginal Territorians.”

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Maningrida will receive $21 million for three infrastructure upgrades that will increase water storage capacity through construction of a new tank, pipes and improvements to the water network.

The Gove Peninsula is to benefit from $8.9 million to upgrade a pipeline in Yirrkala, and a water infrastructure assessment for Gunyangara. Meanwhile, in Numbulwar, $3.2 million is going towards planning and investigation work for the identification of new water sources.

To support the region’s tourism industry, Yulara’s water supply project will receive $18.2 million from the governments and $5 million from Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia. This combined funding is to provide water security for the primary service centre supporting the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and wider Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara regions.

Another $1.8 million has been committed to science and research projects to help plan for future water management.

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