A CSIRO study into water resources in northern Australia has
identified eight large potential dam sites in the Northern
Territory’s Darwin catchment.
With pressure mounting on the Power and Water Corporation to
sure-up Darwin’s future urban water supply, the Federal
Government-funded $15 million environment and economic assessment
of northern regions may provide a solution.
The study’s progress report reveals 10 field teams have
collected thousands of soil samples from 500 sites across three
catchments — Darwin, Mitchell in Queensland and Fitzroy in
As ABC Rural revealed last year, an application by Power and
Water to obtain funding for a feasibility study into a new
potable water resource was knocked back by the Department of
Agriculture, because the proposal did noy consider
supporting agriculture or industry.
But by identifying in-stream dam sites near Darwin, which may
be utilised by agriculture, the CSIRO could potentially hold
the key to a proposal for water infrastructure that would be
NT research leader Chris Chillcott said the study would
determine the best potential uses for water, if a dam was to be
“The uses around urban and industrial would be considered as
part of that,” he said.
“We’re lucky in a sense that we don’t need to make those
decisions — we’ll provide the detail and information that will
allow others to make those decisions in the future.
“It’s also about how do you use that water in a sensible way
that doesn’t opt out of future land uses, or urban use, or even
things like aquaculture.”
While water is a core component to the study, Mr Chillcott said
the focus for the project was to highlight areas where regional
development could occur in the Top End.
“The work we’ve done so far is to look across the whole
catchment, every 30 square metres, and see where you might be
able store water in that area,” he said.
“There are around eight where we have the opportunity to put
streams or weirs or off-stream storage in place to store
“We’re down to a shortlist of where the best parts of the
catchment are and where you could store water.”
Some previous research work conducted on potential dam sites is
being revisited, whereas the rest is complimentary to existing
The northern Australia water resources assessment — across the
NT, Queensland and WA — is set to be finalised by June 2018.