The development of a cotton industry in the Katherine region would be "transformational", and at the current scale of plans could deplete the river system, the Environment Centre of the NT's river campaigner Jason Fowler says.
More than 1000 hectares of cotton is already being grown in trial sites across the Territory on five properties in the Douglas Daly, Katherine and at Tipperary, but conservationists fear a growth in irrigated broadacre crops could cause immense environmental damage.
Concerns have been rising as developers push for use of public funds to establish an industry, but Mr Fowler says there are ways to "keep the industry in check" - the first step is to be informed.
The Environment Centre NT is hosting an information day in Katherine on Saturday, February 20, to highlight potential risks facing Katherine's water.
"It has become clear that there is a lack of information out there about the threats to the river," Mr Fowler said.
"We will have lots of information about fracking and PFAS, but it will mostly be about what the impacts of cotton will be on the river system."
Mr Fowler, who is also a marine biologist, said the scale of the industry's plan for cotton will be "transformational" if it goes ahead.
Within a decade the industry could be worth at least $200 million and directly employ over 250 workers, NT Farmers chief executive Paul Burke told the Katherine Times in November, 2020.
"The sheer volume of chemicals used to grow these crops to the amount of land the industry is planning to clear might be surprising to people," Mr Fowler said.
He said the industry plans to apply for massive water licences which could result in a repeat of the water-starved Murray-Darling Basin in NSW.
"I think there is room to grow cotton, the industry just isn't viable at the scale they are proposing without major environmental impacts," Mr Fowler said.
"We could do it, but we'd kill the river in the process.
The information day will be held from 9am to 5pm at shop 12 in the Woolworths Complex.
Experts on fracking, an environmental lawyer, Mr Fowler and Dr P J Spafford will be on hand across the day to answer questions.
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