Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC

Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC

Former Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Hydrogen Industry

Hon Dave Kelly BA MLA

Hon Dave Kelly BA MLA

Former Minister for Water; Forestry; Youth

    Desalination trial to improve rural and regional water security

    30/09/2022 12:05 PM
    • Four desalination units to be built to test desalination technology and brine disposal for on-farm application
    • WaterSmart Farms project improving climate resilience of WA farms and benefiting community water supplies

    Three community desalination units will be built to test desalination technology from the State Government's WaterSmart Farms initiative, which is providing $400,000 funding to support research to build climate resilience and enhance sustainable community water supplies.


    A brackish water desalination unit will be installed in Katanning this summer as part of a network of demonstration sites to examine how the technology can help overcome seasonal variability, reduce reliance on scheme water and support community development.


    The Katanning unit will supply 30 kilolitres per day of fresh water to augment services for three local parks, as well as other town infrastructure.


    This summer a 100 kL/day desalinisation unit will be installed at Merredin to service farm and town water needs, while a new 10 kL/day salty groundwater system at Dumbleyung will service farm and town water supplies, as well as underpin repairs to the town's swimming pool.


    A further 30 kL/day brackish water off grid reverse osmosis unit will be installed at the Wongutha Christian Aboriginal Parent-Directed School at Esperance, as part of a collaboration with the Australian Government's National Water Grid Authority.


    Desalination units use a reverse osmosis process to remove salt and impurities from groundwater to produce fresh water, suitable for livestock, crop spraying, horticulture and garden use.


    A key component of the investigation will be the safe and efficient discharge of reject water, so it does not damage the environment or affect downstream neighbours.


    There has been increasing interest in on-farm desalination units in recent years, with more than 50 units established on Wheatbelt farms in the past three years.


    The project, led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in partnership with the Water Corporation, will also undertake case studies to examine the life cycle costs and efficiency of these new systems. 


    The findings from the investigation will provide valuable information to assist regional communities and farmers to consider adopting the technology to build water resilience in a drying climate.


    The WA Government's $1.5 million WaterSmart Farms project will also involve an inventory of about 50 on-farm desalination plants to capture the learnings and experiences of farmers to extend to the broader community.


    The project is working with Murdoch University, Curtin University, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and the Grower Group Alliance on a targeted groundwater exploration program to identify previously untapped brackish to saline groundwater supplies.


    Comments attributed to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:


    "This initiative is assisting our farmers and communities to build resilience in dry years by undertaking scientific research on how best to apply this technology to tap into benefits for rural businesses and the regions.


    "While recent rainfall in the agricultural region has been favourable, now is the time to invest in how to future proof farming operations and regional communities so they are set up and well-resourced to manage the dry years.


    "The greater use of groundwater can also help lower the water table and reduce salinity."


    Comments attributed to Water Minister Dave Kelly:


    "The long-term statistics show that WA is experiencing reduced rainfall due to the impacts of climate change, with a record 12 Water Deficiency Declarations announced just two years ago in the Wheatbelt.


    "This important work, supported by Water Corporation, will help to serve not only these first three communities but others in the future, as the technology is better understood and adopted throughout the State."


    Agriculture and Food Minister's office - 6552 6200

    Water Minister's office - 6552 6100