The Hon. Simone McGurk, Minister for Water (WA), Media Release, 13 March 2023
Work to ensure the long-term security and sustainability of drinking water in Western Australia’s Lower Great Southern is gathering pace, with planning underway for the region’s next major water source.
Reduced rainfall driven by climate change and growing demand are placing pressure on existing groundwater sources that supply around 90 per cent of drinking water to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme.
The scheme supplies more than 37,000 people in Albany, Mount Barker and Kendenup, as well as 4,000 residents in Denmark through the $25 million Albany to Denmark pipeline, delivered by the McGowan Government in August 2021.
On current projections, annual demand in the region will outstrip supply by 2030, with an additional 1.8 billion litres of drinking water needed by 2050.
Modelling predicts aquifer recharge in existing groundwater abstraction areas west of Albany will fall by up to 18 per cent by 2050, driven by an 18 per cent decline in winter rainfall over the same period.
Winter rainfall in the Great Southern has already decreased 13 per cent since 1968.
Previous investigations and community engagement have shown the most feasible options are new, sustainable groundwater sources north-east of Albany or a future seawater desalination plant. A combination of the two options is also being investigated.
Thorough modelling and investigations are underway to understand how source options can be delivered in the required timeframe, with the lowest environmental impact, and with the greatest long-term benefit to the community.
For more information on new source options, and updates on opportunities for community feedback and involvement, visit https://yoursay.watercorporation.com.au/gsrfuturesource
Comments attributed to Water Minister Simone McGurk:
“Groundwater sources west of Albany cannot be expanded indefinitely. We need more secure, more sustainable water sources, and we need to start planning for the future now.
“Despite a wet winter last year, we know existing drinking water sources in the region are under increasing pressure as demand grows and long-term rainfall declines.
“New water sources take time to plan and deliver in a responsible way. The State Government is committed to getting the planning process right, and there will be opportunities for the community to share their thoughts with us, to help inform the next steps.
Comments attributed to Albany MLA Rebecca Stephens:
“Long-term water security is absolutely essential to ensuring Albany and the region continues to be a wonderful place to live, visit and work in.
“Rainfall alone isn’t sufficient to meet the drinking water needs of local communities, which means we must look to alternate sources.
“Thankfully, WA has some of the world’s leading water source planners who are ahead of the curve when it comes to ensuring local communities have a secure, sustainable drinking water supply despite the challenges of climate change.”