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Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003



Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003

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Tabled Paper 1123


Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Delia Lawrie


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Power & Water Corporation Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 130 Cook University, pers, comm, 2003). There has been no evidence of cane toads passing any other pathogens to humans (Speare, James Cook University, pers. comm. 2003). Experience has shown that cane toads have not affected drinking water quality in Cairns, where the presence of cane toads is significantly greater than in the Northern Territory, Appendix 2 provides a comparison of the level of treatment of surface water supplies in Queensland towns affected by cane toads compared with centres supplied with surface water in the Northern Territory. Although the degree of treatment of surface water supplies in Queensland is generally greater than the Northern Territory, this is largely a reflection of a lower degree of catchment protection. As mentioned above, the possibility of large water bodies, such as the major surface water supplies in the Northern Territory, being contaminated by bufotoxin is negligible. As a result of the adoption and progressive implementation of the 'Framework for Management of Drinking Water Quality" by Power and Water, drinking water supplies are protected from external risks to reduce water contamination and ensure safe drinking water quality. This ongoing management of drinking water supplies by Power and Water minimises the risks of cane toads entering drinking water sources (especially bores) and further affecting drinking water quality in the Northern Territory. RISK TO ENVIRONMENT While cane toads are not considered a direct threat to water quality within large surface reservoirs, Darwin River Dam does represent the largest permanent fresh water body in the Northern Territory. Recent studies have indicated a significant diversity of terrestrial species and habitats within its protected catchment boundary. However, no study has been undertaken to date of the aquatic species or nearshore habitats. The imminent arrival of cane toads within the catchment may provide a significant opportunity for researchers to study the impact of the introduction of cane toads on a stable, protected environment over a number of years. CONCLUSION The above discussion clearly indicates that cane toad toxin pose insignificant risks to well managed drinking water sources and supplies. Cane toad toxins have been identified to be more of a threat to native Wildlife and a nuisance to humans. The solubility and low concentrations of bufotoxin in large water supply sources poses no risk to drinking water quality. Water quality risks are only associated with smaller water sources such as watering troughs, unprotected bore holes and stagnant water pools where cane toads breed, get trapped and eventually drown. Although this investigation indicates that cane toads do not pose an immediate risk to drinking water quality in the Northern Territory, the unknown risks they pose to the natural environment and drinking water quality through salmonella contamination suggests the need for more research to be conducted in this field. RECOMMENDATIONS Drawing from the findings of this investigation it is recommended that Power and Water provide a submission to the Legislative Assembly highlighting: 1. The low level of risk that cane toads pose to well managed and adequately maintained drinking water supplies.

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