A report by the Carnarvon water resource reference committee has recommended that alternative methods of recharge enhancement of the Gascoyne River aquifers be investigated in a bid to increase water supply to the local community.
The committee - comprising local grower and business representatives and officers from the Water Authority, Department of Agriculture and Department of State Development - also recommends that the work be carried out by an independent consultant, funded by the Government.
Water Resources Minister Ernie Bridge, who received the report this week, said he expected to make a decision shortly.
"The inconsistency of water supply in the Gascoyne region is a major impediment to industry development, and it is important this issue is addressed quickly," he said.
"Growers need to be assured of a reliable water reserve if they are to expand and tap into new market opportunities, particularly in South East Asia, and I fully understand the importance of resolving the current difficulties.
"This was reflected in my initial decision to establish the reference committee to examine current and future water needs and supplies in the region."
The report notes that the total water draw at present is about 11 million cubic metres, with growers using some 5 million cubic metres from their own bores and 4.5 million cubic metres from the Water Authority. Town consumption is a further 1.5 million cubic metres.
It says the growing demand for more water has come to the fore in recent times when approaches have been made from developers and overseas companies looking to introduce new crops such as grapes and broadacre peach farming. There had also been a local demand for increased water supply.
The Water Authority recently completed construction of two new bores, at a cost of $250,000, providing an additional 2,200 kilolitres a day, but it was recognised that this was insufficient to meet new demand.
The committee considered that the most significant benefit to industry was to maximise the recharge to Basin A.
The report says the proposed consultant should review the current bore field set up with Basin A as the priority and other basins secondary.
It says the terms of reference should also include redefinition of the total water resource, examination of costs, water storage benefits, water quality effects, varying hydro-geology of the first and second aquifers, and risks such as the impact on flood water levels.
The aim would be to have a five-year development plan prepared, mapping out a strategy plan for the resource.