Water Minister Graham Jacobs today released a strategic plan to guide water management in the South-West region for the next 20 years.
Dr Jacobs said the ‘South West Regional Water Plan’ identified actions and policies that would enable the South-West community and industry to adapt to having a decrease in water availability while maintaining the amenity and economic growth of the region.
“Currently about 820 gigalitres (GL) of water can be used each year, but with the pattern of decreasing rainfall this could reduce to about 610GL/yr by 2030,” he said.
“This is less than the estimate of 710GL/yr which will be needed and a key driver for why we need to change the way we manage and use water.
“Meeting future water needs means living within our means and doing more with less.
“We have to turn to non-traditional sources and really drive greater efficiency in all sectors.
“For example, the plan identifies that now scarce high-quality water should not be used for industrial processing where alternatives exist.
“The actions and positions in the plan are designed to ensure the South-West continues to have opportunities for water sensitive economic development in the face of this challenge.
“The plan also recognises the same water systems provide drinking water to a growing population and support the environment and biodiversity that make the region unique.”
The Minister said the document outlined possible water allocation plans to tackle this very difficult balancing act in key areas. It also guided the plans by identifying that making water available for new users should not happen at the expense of existing users’ entitlement security.
The role that water service providers have, and directions for how they must apply an integrated approach to water service management, and delivery for viable and healthy communities were also covered in the plan. This included a possible target of 100 kilolitres of water per person per year for scheme water use.
The strategic plan outlines seven themes which are encompassed within a whole-of-water-cycle approach.
· understand water resources
· enhance the security of water resources for environmental uses
· manage water resource health and values
· facilitate water sensitive regional development
· provide integrated water services for urban communities
· use water efficiently
· community involvement in water resource management.
“There was wide consultation, including input from the South West Development Commission, the South West Catchments’ Council and members from all water use sectors. The traditional stewardship ethic of the Noongar people also contributed to this model for holistic, integrated water resource management,” Dr Jacobs said.
The ‘South West regional water plan: Strategic directions and actions’ is the first of nine regional water plans to be published by the State Government.
The plan and supporting detail is available at http://www.water.wa.gov.au or phone 6364 7119.
Minister's office - 9213 6900