- Department of Water scientists' discovery in spotlight on World Rivers Day
- Study boosts world-class research to manage groundwater in a drying climate
- Made possible by Liberal National Government's Royalties for Regions program
World-class science that reveals how underground water keeps the South-West's only year-round river flowing is in focus for World Rivers Day.
The relationship between annual rainfall, groundwater sources and how they impact Blackwood River flows has been revealed in a specialist study of the South West groundwater assessment as part of the Liberal National Government's $12.82 million Royalties for Regions 'Regional water availability planning and investigation' project.
Water Minister Mia Davies said communities, businesses, tourists and aquatic species relied on the Blackwood, making this sort of research an invaluable tool for managing the resource.
"We always suspected groundwater flowed into the Blackwood in summer, causing its normally dark brown waters to flow clear but we did not have solid science to confirm this," Ms Davies said.
"Department of Water scientists have, for the first time, been able to trace the full journey of raindrops through the landscape to confirm a direct link between annual rainfall and the aquifer-charged summer flows that keep the Blackwood and parts of the Donnelly, Warren and Capel rivers flowing year-round and Margaret River pools full.
"We now know the Blackwood is unique because it is fresher in summer due to groundwater discharge. The reduced salinity allows fish such as Balston's pygmy perch - listed as vulnerable - to return to the main river from freshwater tributaries where they take refuge in winter."
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the health of the Blackwood was vital to the communities and businesses that it serviced.
"Regional waterways are assets that promote recreational activities and encourage tourism," Mr Redman said.
"It is significant that Royalties for Regions invests in initiatives that help optimise our groundwater resources to support social and economic growth - with strong collaboration by project partners and the community - to build sustainability and liveability in our regions."
- New study shows Blackwood River has the South-West's longest section of permanent groundwater-fed flows and is more saline during winter than in summer
- This research continues hydrogeological work by the Department of Water to help optimise water sources being impacted by a drying climate in the South-West
Water Minister's office - 6552 5500
Regional Development Minister's office - 6552 6700