Project goal:

Investigate what water sources are needed to maintain a reliable drinking water supply to the Lower Great Southern area into the future.

Status:

In planning

Delivery Date:

2029/2030

What's happening?

In response to climate change impacts and forecast increases in demand on our drinking water supplies, we are currently investigating what water sources may be needed to maintain a reliable drinking water supply via the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme (LGSTWSS).

These include:

  • new groundwater sources in the vicinity of Albany;
  • local seawater desalination.

So far we have completed environmental and Aboriginal Heritage surveys that incorporated the Manypeaks, Angove, Torndirrup, Little Grove, Big Grove and Goode Beach areas.

Community information sessions

The project team hosted two drop-in sessions in Albany on Friday, 26 May and Saturday, 27 May 2023. Thank you to those who joined us to learn more about our new water source investigations.

We are now progressing with further planning for the investigations, and will keep the community updated as we progress. Sign up for updates to hear the latest project news.

Where does Albany currently get its water?

The LGSTWSS supplies drinking water to Albany, Mount Barker, Kendenup and Narrikup and Denmark (as required) from local groundwater sources on the South Coast and surface water from Angove River east of Albany.

When will you decide what the future water source/s will be?

We are still in the very early stages of planning and will work closely with DWER and DPIRD before making any decisions on the next source for the LGSTWSS. A decision is planned for 2025 following a detailed analysis of data and results.

We are committed to keeping the local community updated as we investigate the viability of sources and promote opportunities for community feedback.

 
For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions below.

The LGSTWSS supplies drinking water to Albany, Mount Barker, Kendenup and Narrikup and Denmark (as required) from local groundwater sources on the South Coast and from surface water from Angove River near Two Peoples Bay, east of Albany. 

We continue to respond proactively to the ongoing challenges of climate change by investigating potential new water sources for the LGSTWSS.

These include:

  • new groundwater sources;
  • local seawater desalination.

As part of an investigation into a groundwater source option, we are investigating the Manypeaks and Angove areas. These appear to be the most suitable areas from a hydrogeological point of view and are close to existing water infrastructure. 

Several locations in Princess Royal Harbour and Frenchman Bay, including the Vancouver Peninsula, are being investigated for seawater intake to supply a possible seawater desalination plant.  Options for discharge of brine that are being investigated are in Frenchman Bay and on the south coast. The Big Grove, Little Grove and Goode Beach areas are being investigated as possible pipeline routes and wherever possible we would use road reserves or Crown land to minimise impacts on private landowners and the environment. The seawater desalination plant would be co-located with the existing South Coast Water Treatment Plant in Torndirrup 

 

Before we determine the location of a preferred water source, we consider the following factors at a minimum: 
water quality

  • drying climate patterns and rainfall / streamflow data
  • environmental considerations, including impact of drawing water on local ecosystems and construction impacts on existing flora and fauna habitats
  • heritage and Native Title rights
  • community feedback
  • impact on private landowners
  • water treatment requirements
  • amount of water we expect to draw from the source and;
  • cost of supplying water to our customers including building the required infrastructure.
 

Though Denmark is now connected to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme (LGSTWSS), water will only be sent there if required, such as if there are a few dry years resulting in a demand shortfall in Denmark. 

We are still in the early stages with a decision on preferred option/s expected in 2025, following a detailed review of data and results.

We will engage with DWER, other government agencies, stakeholders and the community before making decisions on future sources for the LGSTWSS. 

 

Water Corporation is working with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) as we investigate long-term supply options. DWER is developing the Albany and hinterlands water allocation plan for public comment. It covers how groundwater and surface water will be managed and regulated in this area. The plan sets limits about how much water can be used and how much is left in the aquifer for the environment.

Water Corporation also continues to liaise with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) about a potential seawater desalination plant.  DPIRD is working with the Minister for Fisheries to confirm the Albany Aquaculture Development Zone. The final stages include licences and tenure within the Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound areas.

 

The Torndirrup National Park cliffs are a barrier between the Southern Ocean and Albany; they are over 170m high in some places. The energy required to pump seawater from the South Coast over the cliffs does not make this a viable option at this time.

We encourage residents to install rainwater tanks in regions with reliable annual rainfall patterns such as the South West and Great Southern regions. Though the efficiencies gained from collecting rainwater are valuable, they don’t close the gap between supply and demand, particularly in a changing climate where rainfall is increasingly less reliable. Rainwater tanks are also more expensive than other options when compared on a per kilolitre basis, which is why we encourage home owners to collect rainwater for household use if this is their personal preference and we offer financial incentives to help. We run a number of Waterwise offers such as showerhead swaps and rebates for rainwater tanks to help customers achieve this, and to reduce the cost difference. The rebates on rainwater tanks are only available in the Great Southern and South West regions due to the more reliable annual rainfall patterns. Visit our Waterwise Towns webpage for further information about offers relevant to your area each year.

Local Government is responsible for the operation approvals and installation of greywater systems in Western Australia. The West Australian Greywater Guide provides further information on how to best reuse domestic greywater in Western Australia

Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveys

Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveys are used worldwide to explore underground resources using electromagnetic technology. The surveys help to map out hydrogeological features we can’t see above the earth’s surface – like the location and make-up of groundwater resources.  

The information gathered from this survey will assist us in further understanding the groundwater systems beneath the South Coast Peninsula. 

This will help us make informed decisions on future source planning, ensuring we continue to sustainably use the groundwater resources within a changing climate. 

The AEM survey is designed to characterise the conductivity properties of the ground by using an electromagnetic (EM) field. An EM field is transmitted from the loop towards the ground, and if a conductive body (like saline water, mineralised rocks or clay rich formations) is present in the ground, a secondary field is produced and picked up by a receiver in the centre of the loop. 

The data received is processed and converted into an electrical conductivity and depth profile.The results help us determine the presence of confining layers and map things like saline water interface or aquifer depth to understand the extent of the fresh groundwater resource that is suitable for water supply. 

The health and safety of the communities we service is extremely important to us. 

No harm is caused to plants, animals or humans from the electromagnetic loop. The EM fields emitted by the loop are similar to those produced by power lines which we pass by daily. As the helicopter or aeroplane flies quickly in the air, exposure to anyone on the ground is extremely limited. 

The flight paths are specifically designed for each area being surveyed. They are designed to collect data over open spaces and to avoid urban areas and structures with people or confined livestock. The flight lines will generally include a buffer zone to allow space for turning and deviating around built-up areas. We make an effort to work with the community to address any concerns they may have. 

Do you have a question about this project? Please submit your enquiry below.

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Contact us

Carina Harris - Community Engagement Senior Advisor

Phone icon (08) 9420 2278

Email icon Carina.Harris@watercorporation.com.au