Exmouth drinking reserve review completed
Released 16 Nov 2011
Exmouth's underground drinking water supply source will continue with its current level of protection after a recently completed review by the Department of Water.
Department of Water Executive Director Science and Planning Greg Davis said ensuring continuation of the current water supply in a growing regional area requires balance between maintaining aquifer recharge and not overly restricting land use.
"The reserve area already supports activities including petroleum mining and exploration, limestone mining, geothermal exploration, pastoral grazing and recreation," he said.
"A preventive risk-based approach means that we look at all the different risks to water quality in order to determine what risks can reasonably be avoided and what risks need to be minimised or managed. This approach means that the inherent risks to water quality are as low as possible.
"Our review confirmed that the reserve must remain as a Priority 1 (P1) water reserve in its current size due to the water source's unconfined irregular limestone geology known as karst, making it highly sensitive to contamination."
Mr Davis said the recent review of the Exmouth Water Reserve water source protection plan identified 10 new production bores that will be commissioned to increase reliability of town water supply.
He said the review was part of the department's water source protection planning program.
"Among other things the review considered possible changes to the Exmouth Water Reserve since the completion of the source protection plan in 2000.
"The first and most important barrier in protection of drinking water quality is the management of the catchment areas for surface water sources and recharge areas of groundwater sources.
"If we get this barrier right, it has a 'flow-on effect'. We will benefit from a more reliable, lower cost and safer drinking water supply system."
Mr Davis said that of the 13 recommendations from the original plan, eight have been finalised, with the other five remaining as ongoing recommendations.
He said one new recommendation has been made relating to the provision of advice to the Department of Mines and Petroleum and the office of the Environmental Protection Authority.
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441