Commercial irrigators in Darwin who require a water licence will have a further six months to apply, after the Northern Territory Government extended the deadline, amid concerns the new rules were causing confusion.

Northern Territory Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Lauren Moss, said the new due date of June 30, 2017 would give residents watering an area exceeding half a hectare an opportunity to understand their water use and how the new licensing arrangement could impact them.

“We have heard the concerns raised by rural residents at public meetings and have decided to extend the application process to give residents more time to understand their water usage and whether the new licensing will impact them or not,” Ms Moss said.

The licence arrangements are an attempt to better manage water in the Northern Territory.

“These changes are about measuring and understanding water use in the Darwin rural area, not charging for water,” Ms Moss said.

The changes aim to increase the knowledge of who is using water from the areas bores and how much is being used.

“There is approximately 5000 production bores in the Darwin rural region with only 12 water extraction licences in place. This is a significant knowledge gap impacting on the ability to effectively manage and plan water resources in the area,” Ms Moss said.

Ms Moss said while residential irrigators watering over the specified area would have to apply for a licence, the initiative was mainly focused on commercial irrigators and the majority of residential users wouldn’t be affected by the change.

“The changes are largely aimed at commercial users and the department and NT Farmers Association continues to work closely with them to ensure they understand the new requirements and are accurately assessing their water needs so it can be captured under a licence arrangement,” Ms Moss said.

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