Management plan for South West groundwater out for public comment
Released 05 Mar 2008
Use of the South West's water resources, including the crucial Yarragadee aquifer, has been addressed in a draft management plan released for public comment by the Department of Water.
The plan prescribes how the Department of Water will manage the South West Yarragadee aquifer, given that the Water Corporation's application for 45 GL for the Integrated Water Supply Scheme has been withdrawn.
The Department's South West Regional manager, Wayne Tingey said the withdrawal of the Water Corporation proposal did not mean that this water was free for others to take.
"The management approach has changed, with focus now on security of public water supply for the South West region, and limiting the risk of impacts from higher level of water use on the coastal plain areas. The plan now covers groundwater management for the region as a whole."
Mr Tingey said the draft South West Groundwater Areas Management Plan had identified lower rainfall and booming south west development as reasons for reduced groundwater recharge rates and declining aquifer levels.
"Although some people think there should be more water made available, the priority is to ensure that existing users keep their water, that growing south west towns have enough drinking water and that the environment is protected into the future as we get less rainfall," he said. "The allocation limits in this plan achieve this, and are based on the best current scientific knowledge and community input."
"We want to avoid the eastern states situation where, in some parts, water users are feeling the pinch because too much water was given out and they aren't getting even close to their full allocations now," Mr Tingey said.
"A multi million dollar environmental supplementation and monitoring program was designed around the Water Corporation proposal, with years of investigation done to minimise impacts. Reallocating this much water to many smaller users on the coastal plains could result in impacts on neighbouring users and the environment.
Mr Tingey said water use efficiency was essential in all sectors to get the most economic development within the limits of available water. While south west towns would have secure drinking water, public water suppliers would have to demonstrate they were efficient before being able to access it.
"We are not stopping with this plan. We've committed to another four years and over $7 million of work in a partnership with the Federal Government to improve our understanding of these water resources; and to optimise use and minimise environmental impact while climate changes."
Comments and submissions on the draft plan can be sent to the department's South West Regional office in Bunbury until the 19 May 2008.
A copy of the plan can be obtained from the Department of Water on (08) 9726 4111 or by visiting the web site at http://www.water.wa.gov.au/allocationplanning.
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441