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Ord River surface water plan area

The Ord River basin is in the east of Western Australia's Kimberley region and drains an area of 55 100 km2. At 650 km long the Ord River is one of the state's major river systems..

Surface water resources in the Ord plan area

The plan considers the broader Ord River catchment, encompassing the Ord and Dunham rivers and tributaries. It includes the surface water resources of the Ord River Catchment to its tidal limit, including runoff that contributes to the Ord River from the Northern Territory.

Ord River surface water map

Water planning in the Ord area

The department has completed an allocation plan for surface water resources in the Ord River area. The Ord surface water allocation plan and Ord surface water allocation plan: Statement of Response were released by the Minister for Water on the 7th of October 2013. The Ord surface water allocation plan  shows how the department uses water licences to maintain a high reliability of supply to water users and protects the riverine environment in the lower Ord River area.

The statement of response sets out how we considered the submissions made during the public comment period, in finalising the plan.

Why has the department prepared this water allocation plan?

The department has prepared the Ord surface water allocation plan to manage the growing water demands on water from the Ord River, which is mainly stored in Lake Argyle. The plan will be used to resolve competing demands for water between hydroelectricity generation and supply to the expanding irrigation industry, while maintaining sufficient flow in the lower Ord River to protect its riverine environment.

The plan replaces the Ord River water management plan (DoW 2006) and sets a new approach for managing water allocation and licensing in the area:

  • There is 865 GL/yr secured from existing infrastructure at a very high reliability for current and future irrigation demand.
  • Water release rules are defined for the Ord River Dam power station to meet downstream irrigation and environmental commitments while maximising hydroelectricity generation.
  • Shows how water will be shared when storage levels are becoming low through water restrictions for hydropower, irrigation, and the environment.
  • The plan establishes how we will license water use and adjust water licences as irrigation and hydroelectricity demands change over time.

How can I access information on the Ord that the department has produced?

We are committed to making the technical information we used in the planning process available to the public.

Please click on the links to access the following documents:

Allocation plan and supporting documents

Managing water from the Ord River
Publish Date: 15/05/2014

Ord surface water allocation plan
Publish Date: 7/10/2013

Ord surface water allocation plan: Statement of Response
Publish Date: 7/10/2013

Ord surface water allocation plan: for public comment
Publish Date: 25/05/2012 

Ord surface water allocation plan methods report
Publish Date: 25/05/2012 

Ord River water management plan
Publish Date: 01/12/2006

Ecological reports

Assessment of pesticides in aquatic organisms : Ord River Western Australia
Publish Date: 11/07/2008

Environmental values, flow related issues and objectives for the lower Ord River, Western Australia
Publish Date: 01/07/2008

Ecological water requirements for the lower Ord River
Publish Date: 01/05/2007

Lower Ord River functional habitat mapping : evaluation and field trial of remote sensing platforms and imaging techniques
Publish Date: 12/12/2005

Lower Ord River : fish response to lowered Ord River flow [for Water and Rivers Commission]
Publish Date: 14/04/2003

Lower Ord River fish habitat survey [report to the Water and Rivers Commission]
Publish Date: 14/04/2003

Lower Ord River invertebrate habitat survey final report
Publish Date: 14/04/2003

Social and cultural reports

Gunanurang : (Kununurra) Big River : aboriginal cultural values of the Ord River and wetlands : a study and report for Water and Rivers Commission
Publish Date: 11/11/2004

Hydrological reports (or hydrogeological)

Reservoir simulations in the Ord River catchment, Hydrogeology of the Ord River irrigation area
Publish Date: 01/05/2010

Hydrogeology of the Ord River irrigation area
Publish Date: 07/01/2003

Further information

For licensing information, please contact the Kimberley Regional office in Kununurra.
Phone 08 9166 4100, or visit the Water regions website.

For planning information, please contact the Department of Water's Water Allocation Planning branch. Phone 08 6364 7600 or email allocation.planning@water.wa.gov.au.


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