Hon Graham Jacobs MBBS FRACGP MLA

Hon Graham Jacobs MBBS FRACGP MLA

Former Minister for Water; Mental Health

    Water Minister releases Pilbara regional water plan

    28/05/2010 12:00 AM

    A 20-year plan to guide water resource management in the Pilbara was launched in Karratha today by Water Minister Graham Jacobs.


    The ‘Pilbara regional water plan 2010-2030’ provides a strategic vision, which includes a five-year action plan, to guide sustainable management of the region’s water resources and water services.


    Dr Jacobs said the plan provided a longer-term strategy towards sustainable water resource planning and management.


    “Water is a defining feature of the Pilbara, supporting a unique landscape which also boasts the economic powerhouse of the country,” he said.


    “However, despite the usual difficult balance and trade-offs between development, environment and indigenous values, the uncertainty of the region’s water resources being recharged by cyclonic rains, makes it even more complex.


    “Increasing population, industry demands, and making the region an attractive place in which to live and work are challenged by the unreliable rainfall and the uncertainty of the future climate.


    “People, energy and water are the key drivers to viable regional development and the State Government must be well placed so that water does not become the limiting growth factor in the development of a revitalised Pilbara. Clear planning by Government can help the mining industry and regional community adapt to the challenges.”


    North West MLA Vince Catania said the plan supported mining expansion in the Pilbara as the nation’s key economic driver and specifically supported the Liberal-National Government’s determination to grow Pilbara towns and diversify economic development.


    The plan also recognised that by 2030, overall water use would more than double, with mine dewatering discharge anticipated to increase threefold - particularly in the next 10 years - with the anticipated rapid expansion of the mining industry.


    “Meeting future needs will require exploration of non-traditional sources and greater efficiency in water use in all sectors,” Mr Catania said.


    The Minister said the plan recognised increasing population and demand for water to support towns and industry, supply from current sources would be insufficient. 


    “Water availability has reached, or is approaching the limits of available supply, and the West Pilbara water supply is the immediate priority,” he said.


    “A priority action is to ensure security of supply and detailed planning for the West Pilbara and Port Hedland water supply schemes to find new sources of water.”


    Investigations have shown there are no convenient short-term sources in the West Pilbara, although demand management, recycling, water use efficiency and timely cyclonic rains have delayed the pressure for new source development.


    Dr Jacobs said the plan also recognised the water needs of smaller communities throughout the region, outlining the Government’s ongoing engagement with Aboriginal people, and to ensure water security and outcomes for all Pilbara water users.


    The plan’s proposed actions encompassed five themes:  water availability; water demand; the strong link Aboriginal people have with the region’s water; the importance of water in maintaining the Pilbara’s unique environment; and the importance of using water wisely and adopting best-practice water management throughout industry.


     The Minister said the Government had taken into account the public submissions received during the plan’s comment period and he was confident it would provide clear direction for all parties concerned.


    “I encourage people to read this regional water plan to reach a deeper understanding of the issues and the planned solutions,” he said.


    The Liberal-National Government’s vision for the Pilbara aims to provide modern vibrant communities and regional centres that will support and deliver a skilled workforce for major economic projects.


    The plan is available at http://www.water.wa.gov.au/PublicationStore/first/86548.pdf or by phoning the Pilbara regional office on 9144 2000.


    Minister's office - 9213 6900