Hon Graham Jacobs MBBS FRACGP MLA

Hon Graham Jacobs MBBS FRACGP MLA

Former Minister for Water; Mental Health

    Water allocation plan continues Gnangara management plan

    11/11/2009 1:00 AM

    Progress in ensuring the health and sustainability of the Gnangara groundwater system will continue with today’s release of a new allocation plan by Water Minister Graham Jacobs.


    In announcing the finalisation and public release of the ‘Gnangara groundwater areas water allocation plan’, Dr Jacobs said successful management programs led by the Department of Water had seen the groundwater system’s health recover and stabilise in the past four years.


    “The Gnangara system has been, and remains, Perth’s biggest single source of good quality, fresh groundwater and, because of that, the pressure on it as a resource has been massive,” he said.


    “System levels are the best they have been in four years, which demonstrates the vital water source has stabilised and is recovering.


    “Given there has been variable rainfall over that period of time, this shows management decisions embodied in this plan are not only sound but having an impact.”


    The Minister said consistent efforts to reduce consumption had contributed significantly to the very important stabilisation and recovery of the groundwater system’s health.


    Dr Jacobs said the ‘Gnangara groundwater areas water allocation plan’ reflected the imperative to tightly manage the system as current high demand for water and reduced rainfall placed it under pressure.


    “The Gnangara groundwater system is now almost fully allocated across all areas, meaning there are limited opportunities for new groundwater licences,” he said.


    “The plan reflects the directions of the draft Gnangara Sustainability Strategy and has three main aims:  to take less water from the system overall; encourage individuals to use water more efficiently; and maintain a secure supply for current and future development, while protecting the environment.


    “It sets the balance between taking groundwater for short term use, and retaining it to maintain the ecology, meet social and cultural needs, and provide for future public and private use.  It sets out the available water, policy for management and licensing rules for all groundwater users.


    “Timely allocation decisions made through this plan mean that we have been able to prevent more serious impacts on the water resources.”


    The Minister said the aquifers of the Gnangara system - the Gnangara Mound, Mirrabooka, Leederville and Yarragadee - supported horticulture and turf industries, plantations, parks and gardens and, importantly, public water supply.  About 40 per cent of the groundwater pumped from the system was for the Integrated Water Supply Scheme which currently represented more than half of its total supply.


    “All of these uses are important and security of water supply for existing users is assured for the life of the plan,” Dr Jacobs said.


    “There will be no large reductions in water entitlements but all current and future water users will be expected to conserve water, use water more efficiently, and effectively manage the impacts of their water use.”


    The Department of Water’s director general Kim Taylor said the department had reduced the amount of water available for abstraction by just greater than 10 per cent.  For example, the Water Corporation’s draw from the Gnangara system would be cut from 137 GL to about 110 GL this year.


    “Limiting the total draw of groundwater will help to protect natural systems across the whole area and impact zones will restrict bores from operating close to important wetlands,” Mr Taylor said.


    “Drawing the bulk of the scheme water from the deeper aquifers will help to protect wetlands dependent on the shallow groundwater.  Many of these are stressed as aquifer levels have declined over the past 30 years of low rainfall.”


    Mr Taylor said the plan was informed by groundwater and climate information, current and future demand and stakeholder consultation.  It mapped out a management approach for the Gnangara aquifers until 2012 when an update was planned and the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant commissioning was scheduled.


    The plan and the department’s statement of response to public comments on the plan are available on http://www.water.wa.gov.au or call 6364 7600.


    Minister's office - 9213 6900