Water use in Western Australia has doubled in the last 15 years and is expected to double again in the next 20 years, Water Resources Minister Dr Kim Hames said today.
Dr Hames announced the results of the WA component of the National Land and Water Audit at the opening of Hydro 2000, the third International Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium.
"This expected growth means decisions on water allocation are going to become more and more critical to meet ongoing demands from industry, agriculture and public use and at the same time maintain the environmental water needs of Western Australia," Dr Hames said.
"While the level of water utilisation in the State as a whole is relatively low, there are a number of areas where allocation levels are high.
"Across the State, around 16 per cent of surface water and 18 per cent of sustainable groundwater yield is allocated to human use."
The Water and Rivers Commission undertook the Western Australian component of the national audit over the last year.
"As the State's water managers, the Water and Rivers Commission will use this updated information in future allocation and management decisions," Dr Hames said.
"The audit results show that WA compares very well to other States, where large amounts of water in over-allocated areas will have to be 'clawed back' to meet environmental needs.
"In WA, a substantial allocation to the environment has been put in place, particularly in the Kimberley where most of the State's near-pristine rivers are located."
The audit has shown that there are some local areas where water resources are moving towards, or already at, fully allocated levels.
"These areas will require continued careful management in the future," Dr Hames said.
Water resources in the Collie Basin, Wanneroo and Manjimup have been under pressure from competing uses in recent years with increased pressure now being felt at the Ord River, Gingin and other areas north of Perth.
"In areas such as the Ord, major efforts have been underway for some time to fully understand the quality and quantity of the water resources, the environmental needs and assess the current and proposed water uses in consultation with the community before allocations are made," Dr Hames said.
"This updated information on the State's water resources provides a realistic assessment of water available for future State development.
"This will enable the Water and Rivers Commission to work with planners and developers on building a sustainable future for the State."
Information on the WA component of the National Land and Water Resources Audit is available from the Water and Rivers Commission on 9278 0300.
Sandy Gater, Minister’s office 9424 7450,
Paula Wallace, Water and Rivers Commission, 9278 0741.