Water windfall for rural WA

The State Government will not have to spend $250 million to build a desalination plant after finding new groundwater supplies near Albany.

The discoveries and a move to take more water from the existing bore field will defer the need for the desalination plant for at least the next decade after concerns that the Lower Great Southern was running out of scheme water.

The water windfall comes as the Government steps up efforts to find new groundwater sources in regional WA to keep pace with population growth, mining projects and agricultural development.

A $25 million hunt for groundwater funded through Royalties for Regions program uncovered the Albany reserves and an additional 50 gigalitres a year in the West Canning Basin with potential to drive investment around Port Hedland.

The Government has flagged development of a common-user pipeline with costs shared by industry based on the Pilbara discovery.

Department of Water investigations also uncovered significant water sources east of Karratha and in the Hamersley Range, including 10gl/year from two sources which could supply Onslow and 20gl/year from three sources which could supply west Pilbara towns.

In the Mid West, an aerial electromagnetic survey will begin next month over an area about the size of Scotland to identify potential groundwater sources to support existing and proposed mining projects.

And in North Gingin $4.5 million is being spent constructing bores across 12 sites to determine how much water is available for horticultural expansion and for Perth's future needs.

The Government will release a detailed guide for businesses and investors today. The Water for Growth guide includes a link to all known water resources in WA.

Water Minister Mia Davies said Albany had been at risk of running short of water after the town's bore field reached maximum allocation in 2010. The Government faced building a desalination plant to boost supply from 2016.

The West Australian

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