Media Release

WA’s untapped wealth – potential new sites for water resource expansion

2 April 2014

Western Australia has a vast untapped water resource that warrants serious consideration from the newly established dams ministerial task group, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said today.

"WA has significant water challenges, particularly around the Perth area in recent decades, and the city is growing very rapidly," Minister Joyce said.

"We need to consider opportunities to augment the water supply for Perth and to expand water supply for agriculture and other development.

"I understand that because only a tiny proportion of WA is freehold the Department of Regional Development and Lands has estimated that there is 12,500 gigalitres (gl) of unallocated surface and ground water in the state.

Minister Joyce met with WA Minister for Water Mia Davies this week and said they had fruitful discussion about water resource opportunities in Western Australia.

Minister Joyce said five regions had been previously identified by the Coalition Dams Taskforce in 2013, and the new ministerial working group would examine these in more detail.

The regions are:

  • the Scott River catchment in the south west
  • a site near Albany on the south coast
  • the Midwest-Gascoyne region, including Murchison Palaeovalley and West Midlands
  • the Kimberley on the Dampier Peninsula
  • the Pilbara's West Canning Basin aquifer and alluvial aquifers in the Hamersley ranges and up to 400 gl annually of mine dewatering.

Add to this the potential to expand Lake Argyle and expand the irrigation in the Ord to 100,000 hectares to deliver a serious economic driver for north Western Australia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week appointed a ministerial task group to identify priorities, investment and processes to fast-track development in water infrastructure.

Members of the group include Minister Joyce (chair), Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs and Parliament Secretary responsible for water, Senator Simon Birmingham.