Research reveals new challenges for south west water
Released 15 Oct 2008
Research had revealed new insights into the state's south west rainfall patterns and the decline in the capture of rainfall into dams, the state's water resource manager said.
Department of Water director general Kim Taylor said the research undertaken by a partnership of the CSIRO, the state government and the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed early cause for concern with declining rainfall patterns over much of the state.
"The south west in particular has experienced declines in rainfall which have magnified into sharp declines in streamflow," Mr Taylor said.
"We now know a lot more about the extent of the decline in our rainfall between April and June each year.
"Among key findings are that rainfall in late autumn and early winter has decreased sharply since the mid-1970s and that, by 2030, there is likely to be a further decline in winter rainfall by as much as 20 per cent relative to the 1960–1990 baseline.
"There is also likely to be a change in the seasonality of south-west rainfall, with generally later winter rains already being recorded.
The research also found that, as yet, it was difficult to predict reliable seasonal forecasts for the south-west – something which made it difficult for planning for the effects of climate changes," Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor's comments were delivered at a Department of Water hosted seminar, Climate, Vegetation and Water Seminar 2008, to the state's leading water professionals and researchers in water resource management.
Understanding how our catchments respond to rainfall is critical to managing our surface water resources, Mr Taylor told the seminar.
"Working to ensure catchments remain functional and in the best condition to maximise the benefit of rainfall for catchments, environment and also replenishment of groundwater remains a central part of the State's water policy," he said.
"Managing our surface water catchments to ensure water supply to our environmental and social needs is even more critical and difficult given our changing climate."
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441