Land managers proposing to undertake certain activities in the SA Arid Lands region that may impact on a water resource will now need to apply for a new permit introduced by the South Australian Arid Lands (SAAL) Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board.
Designed to secure a sustainable water supply and natural habitat for future generations, the new Water Affecting Activities permit is required for any work undertaken by an individual or organisation that may adversely affect the health of natural watercourses, springs, waterholes, floodplains and dependent ecosystems in the SAAL region.
‘The intent of this regulation is not to stop or slow down development within the region or to control landholders’ management decisions,’ said Ms Janet Brook, Presiding Member, SA Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board.
‘We all have a responsibility to manage development in a sustainable way, and we will work with land managers through the permit process, trying wherever possible to achieve a win-win result where water affecting activities can be accommodated with some measures in place to protect the region’s environmental assets.’
Through the permit process, the Board will now have oversight of the water affecting activities that are taking place in the region and can assess and approve future infrastructure developments against potential environmental impacts and the long-term sustainability of the region.
Some of the activities that will now require a permit include constructing or modifying dams, levee banks or water crossing points, constructing bridges or roads, or discharging or diverting water from its natural watercourse.
‘There is considerable regional expansion occurring from the mining boom,’ said Ms Brook.
’Combined with the important contribution of pastoralists to our economy, the extra activity in the
region creates new challenges to manage the sustainability of water resources upon which our plants and animals, communities and industries depend.’
Water Affecting Activities permits were established by the SAAL NRM Board in 2010 when the 10-year SAAL Regional NRM Plan was adopted by the Minister for Environment and Conservation.
This regulatory initiative ensure the Board’s mandate to protect land and water resources in the
region, as outlined in the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, are responsibly managed.
The Board is encouraging voluntary compliance to the Water Affecting Activities regulations but failure to comply can attract penalties.
‘In South Australia, everyone has a general statutory duty under the NRM Act 2004 to act
reasonably and responsibly in relation to the management of natural resources and are obliged to maintain and not damage a watercourse, floodplain, or lake,’ said Ms Brook.
‘If you are planning to undertake activities that you think might impact on a water resource, call the Arid Lands NRM staff at the Natural Resources Centre in Port Augusta who are here to help.’
The cost of the new permit is $49.25 and, depending on the complexity of the application, the assessment and approval process should be achieved in between one to three months,
To find out more about the new water affecting activities permit visit www.saalnrm.sa.gov.au or phone the Arid Lands NRM staff at the Natural Resources Centre in Port Augusta 8648 5300.