The Carnarvon Water Allocation Advisory Committee has recommended the WA Department of Water provide extra water allocations through the 2016-17 water budget to support irrigators during dry periods.
Western Australian Water Minister, Mia Davies, said based on the department’s aquifer status report and other information, the committee had recommended the release of water for distribution if required, with a target date of December 1, 2016.
Under the 2011 Lower Gascoyne water allocation plan, the government can release extra relief water from the main bulk water supply borefield to compensate for reduced self-supply.
“Some growers have reduced pumping from the River Bed Sands aquifer or stopped pumping from some bores altogether, due to limited supplies of good quality water, following no major river flows in 2016,” Ms Davies said.
This recommendation is supported by the Carnarvon Growers Association and the Gascoyne Water Cooperative, which will distribute the water sourced from the Irrigation Scheme Supply (Subarea B-L).
Up to 2GL of water over 12 months can be made available for the Gascoyne Water Cooperative to distribute under a low aquifer storage declaration.
“The Department of Water suggests that growers evaluate their current water use and future water requirements in light of the impending low aquifer storage declaration, and plan to ensure they have the right quantities of water to finish off crops this summer,” Ms Davies said.
The department monitors aquifer levels and borefield performance, and provides updates to growers every three months.
Ms Davies said the management rules helped protect the area’s aquifers during periods of low water availability, and the Lower Gascoyne water allocation plan would be reviewed in 2017 to ensure it was current and continuing to meet expectations.
“We are also busy preparing a draft master plan for the Gascoyne area that incorporates the work of the Carnarvon Ministerial Advisory Committee, which is set to be released for public comment in December,” Ms Davies said.