A plan to help ensure sustainable management of the surface water resources in the South-West from Cape Naturalist to Cape Leeuwin and just east of Nannup was released today at Margaret River by Water Minister Graham Jacobs.
Dr Jacobs said that as surface water demand in the region grew, the South-West community and the State Government had recognised water security concerns and that active management through licensing was needed.
He said the plan followed the 2007 proclamation of four new surface water areas in the Whicher area which allowed the Department of Water to start managing surface water through allocation limits and licensing.
“This means that surface water users will have a secure annual water entitlement for the surface water they take and use because the department can actively manage the resources,” the Minister said.
“The allocation strategy is rational; balanced and a responsible position for government to take.
“The plan was based on the best available information, consideration of environmental issues, recognition of existing water use and consultation with the Whicher Water Resource Management Committee and the community.
“The population of this region continues to grow - as does commerce and local industry. Therefore, we must strike a balance between the competing demands of regional development and the protection of natural assets and manage water resources in the best interests of the whole community.
“We need this plan now due to expansion pressures of agriculture, particularly viticulture; population and tourism; pressure to retain the high biodiversity value of the region; as well as reduced stream flows and predicted further declines in rainfall.
“Some of this work has already begun and will help answer many more questions for surface water users on issues such as resource sharing, rules-based allocation, water trading, climate change, surface water-groundwater interaction and impacts and regulation of plantations.
Dr Jacobs said the plan focused on managing self-supply water use rather than larger public water supplies (which are mostly from groundwater).
The department recognises existing water use; and will license all plan pre-proclamation water use before licensing new use.
“Requests for surface water for new developments and/or expansion of existing developments will not be approved if they are above the allocation limits set in plan,” the Minister said.
“With some areas already fully allocated, new and existing commercial water users will need to use water more efficiently; use alternative supplies; find fit-for-purpose water, or trade water.
“There will be a second plan in a few years. This will increase the precision of science and information supporting the plan, and the level of management.”
The Department of Water’s Whicher area surface water allocation plan is the last of its three allocation plans for the South-West finalised and released this year. The South West groundwater areas allocation plan was released in June and the Upper Collie water allocation plan in August. The draft Warren Donnelly surface water allocation plan is scheduled for later this year.
Minister's office - 9213 6900