Water Corporation has applied to the Department of Water for an additional temporary groundwater allocation of 10 gigalitres from the Gnangara groundwater system for the 2015-16 financial year. 

This application was advertised in The West Australian today and is open for public comment.

Water Corporation General Manager Assets Planning Ashley Vincent said if granted, the additional water will be used to help balance the community’s demand for drinking water for the 2015-16 financial year, following on from record low dam inflows and increased water use throughout spring.

“We last applied for additional groundwater above our baseline allocation in 2012-13, and were granted an allocation of 19 gigalitres,” Mr Vincent said.

“This followed a year when Perth’s dams received nearly 57 gigalitres of inflow, which is five times the 11.4 gigalitres of inflow that our dams received in 2015.”

Mr Vincent said if the additional allocation was granted, the majority of the water will come from the deeper Leederville, Mirrabooka and Yarragadee aquifers to minimise impacts on the environment and other groundwater users.

He said Water Corporation will only take about three per cent, or 300 million litres, of the 2015-16 additional allocation from shallow superficial aquifer bores.

“It’s important to note that over the last decade, we have reduced our abstraction from environmentally sensitive superficial aquifers by about 15 gigalitres,” he said.

Mr Vincent said looking forward, Water Corporation will have completed construction of Australia’s first Groundwater Replenishment Scheme in Craigie by the end of the year.

“This innovative scheme will allow up to 14 gigalitres of highly treated recycled water to be recharged to Perth’s deeper aquifers each year.” 

It is expected the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme will recharge seven gigalitres of water to aquifers in 2016-17. This application is for Water Corporation to abstract the equivalent volume recharged as part of the scheme.

Mr Vincent said if 2016 brings an unprecedented second winter of little or no inflow to the dams, Water Corporation will again need additional groundwater to help balance the community’s water needs. 

“So as a precaution, we have also applied to the Department of Water for an additional 13.5 gigalitres of groundwater for the 2016-17 financial year,” Mr Vincent said.

“Any inflows received during the 2016 winter will help preserve dam levels for local drinking water supplies and provide an important carry over for the following year.”

The application for temporary additional groundwater will provide greater certainty for Perth’s water supply while the Department of Water and Water Corporation finalise plans for the next climate independent water source. An option currently being considered is accelerating the expansion of the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme, to produce 28 gigalitres of water each year.

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