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WESTERN AUSTRALIA: MANAGING WATER


In the years that rainfall improves and dam flows increase, managed aquifer recharge will assist groundwater sources to replenish, and this is good news for not only the public scheme water supply, but the overall use of the groundwater under Perth. This work ensures that the best available scientific advice is available to make management decisions about water resources. It includes establishing a network of over 700 government-owned monitoring sites used to provide up to date information on groundwater levels and water quality, and the incorporation of the latest data into the department’s computer hydrogeology modelling tool, the Perth Regional Aquifer Modelling System (PRAMS) which is used to assess the volumes, levels and recharge of the system and helps predict how the system is likely to


“It’s an exciting time to be working with water in Western Australia, a time that requires vision, innovation and drive.”


respond to future changes in land use, abstraction and climate.


Improved understanding of the relationship between the superficial and confined aquifers which are used as Perth’s major water source is required to make better use of groundwater resources under the impact of the drying climate. In 2012 the Western Australian government committed $7 million over four years to the Confined Aquifer Capacity Project which is investigating the deeper, confined aquifers in order to even further improve the way they are managed and used.


This project is building on the latest groundwater science to establish if additional groundwater can be drawn sustainably from the confined aquifers without impacting


on surface aquifer levels. It also includes installation of a new network to monitor saltwater intrusion to the freshwater aquifers.


Isotope analysis and modelling to direct future groundwater replenishment and managed aquifer recharge is also underway to guide the expansion of the groundwater replenishment and recovery scheme by identifying the best locations for the locations of the bores to conduct the managed aquifer recharge as this project scales up to 28Gl per year and beyond.


Making the small changes count


Not all changes that are helping combat the dry are at such a massive, technical and engineering level. Because much of the groundwater pumping, such as for public open space, is relatively small scale and widely distributed, small improvements in planning and efficiency can make a big difference. Western Australia’s largest water utility, the Water Corporation plays a significant role in demand management in Western Australia, reducing water usage through education campaigns, retrofitting water saving devices and working closely with industry and local government to implement water saving measures and water recycling. The permanent winter sprinkler ban that applies to all households as well as parks and non-active turf pitches, along with other water conservation measures, also assist in reducing the draw on the city’s superficial aquifers. Western Australians love their outdoor activities and are blessed with many parks, playing fields and urban waterways, all managed within water resource limits. Perth has the fastest growing population in Australia and there’s continuing strength in the housing sector and demand for land. The North West Corridor of metropolitan Perth is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the nation. It is also an area where groundwater is highly used and competition has now limited its availability. By working with


170 | The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three


developers, irrigation consultants and local government, a water supply strategy to cover an area of more than 9,000 hectares of new urban development was developed to ensure a sustainable amount of water was required and supplied. It’s an example of balancing the needs of public drinking water supply and the need for public open space in the drying climate.


This “greenfield” expansion in the northern corridor captures the challenges of building new suburbs for a growing city population under a drying climate. The Alkimos Eglinton area where the strategy was launched, is one of the largest self-contained planned development projects in the Northern corridor in Australia, and the world. Under the unified control of a public/private


partnership, it will cater for around 57,000 new inhabitants on 2,626 hectares of land.


Under this strategy there will be sufficient water for the creation and maintenance of over 37 hectares of sporting fields for community and school sports.


This is the equivalent of almost 18 ovals the size of Perth’s cricket ground or 45 international regulation soccer pitches. It will also water a further 150 hectares of public open space for active and passive community recreation.


Strategies like this bring together smart thinking, combining the latest in urban water design and turf irrigation best practice to direct the limited water to its highest value use. In greater Perth, sweeping grassed entrance statements and


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