Brookton water protection goes carbon neutral
Released 11 Nov 2011
The Department of Water will plant 20,000 more trees within the Brookton Happy Valley Water Reserve public drinking water source area after the success of its first plant of 31,700 seedlings this year.
Revegetation above the valuable groundwater source is being undertaken to implement one of the recommendations of the Brookton Happy Valley Water Reserve drinking water source protection plan (2008).
The tree planting is to protect water quality at the drinking water reserve and has the added benefit of offsetting carbon emissions for Water Corporation.
A recent inspection of the 31,700 seedlings planted this winter showed the trees are thriving.
Department of Water Scientific Officer Clint Roberts said the purpose of planting the trees is to revegetate the most vulnerable area of the water reserve and to meet the department's obligations for the Priority 1 area and to neighbouring land owners.
The Brookton town water supply relies on two key production bores in the reserve, directly recharged by rainfall over four lots of land owned by the department.
This local supply is strategically important as it augments by up to 110 megalitres (MLs) town supply from the Great Southern Town Water Supply Scheme over summer months.
The plantings are also part of a three-year carbon neutral offset revegetation project being undertaken by the department, the Water Corporation and Carbon Neutral - a not for profit carbon consultancy.
"Carbon Neutral is helping the department and the Water Corporation to develop a forest sink on cleared land previously used for intensive cattle grazing, which was considered to be a high contamination risk to this water source," Mr Roberts said.
"The forest sink also produces a carbon offset for the Water Corporation, who in turn are paying for the seedlings and for their establishment, and provides a cost-neutral water source protection solution for the department."
A total of 90ha of the 420ha property has been earmarked for the forest sink, involving approximately 90,000 trees in total.
Other land management initiatives on the property include crop production, which Mr Roberts said had been assessed as a low contamination risk as it meets best management farming and water source protection practices.
The oaten hay production was assessed for herbicide impacts using the Pesticide Impact Rating Index software developed by CSIRO. The results indicated a very low impact from the herbicides used, which also meet the Department of Health guidelines for herbicide use in public drinking water source areas.
Department of Water Land Management Strategic Projects Manager Mark Costello said the department was looking for a long-term and sustainable use for the land.
"The department's management of the water resource has not negatively impacted on the flow of the nearby spring as it ensured that sustainable abstraction levels were applied," he said.
The department is assessing other commercial uses that are compatible with the P1 management objectives such as the potential for a Western Australian sandalwood plantation in the future.
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441