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The Western Australian Government has decided not to proceed with the construction of a dam at Record Brook, following the findings of revised climate modelling. 

After modelling indicated that a Record Brook dam would not be viable, the Western Australian Government determined that it will have to apply a new approach to its Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme. 

Reports by CSIRO found climate change and lowering of the water table has significantly altered the supply of available water from the Donnelly River.

The latest modelling results released publicly in a report by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) are based on the latest information from the CSIRO research.

The results confirm the scheme is likely to supply less water on average than was originally proposed.

Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, said, “The State Government remains committed to working with the community to develop sustainable and cost-effective ways to provide water security in the face of a drying climate. 

“We have shared the emerging water data with industry over the past year and so this decision will not be of surprise.

“Our determination is to find practical alternatives to a dam on Record Brook, as the protection of this horticultural precinct is of great importance to Western Australia’s food security.”

The State Government will be retaining the committed funds to ensure water security. A reference group will be established to provide advice on alternative measures to deliver water security in the Manjimup-Pemberton horticultural sector to respond to climate change challenges.

They will be asked to advise on alternative possibilities, including infrastructure and water efficiency measures to build water security and resilience. The reference group is intended to complement the role of the Warren Donnelly Water Advisory Committee, which provides advice to government on water planning and policy matters in the region.

The group will be chaired by former Department of Agriculture and Food Director General, Ian Longson, and have representation from across the horticultural industry in Manjimup-Pemberton, and from local member for Warren-Blackwood, Jane Kelsbie. 

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “The reality of climate change in the south-west of Western Australia is that water resources are changing. 

“At the same time, the science is also evolving and there are better projections about the rate and scale of the changes we can expect in rainfall and river flow.

“The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will continue to work closely with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, as the reference group examines how the Manjimup-Pemberton horticultural sector can best respond and adapt to the challenges of climate change.”

Ms Kelbie said, “Since being elected in March 2021, I have spent significant time in Manjimup listening to the concerns of the community regarding water security and equitable access.

“I understand some producers will be disappointed, however our understanding of the amount of available water has changed significantly in the seven years since this idea was first developed.

“I know the value of horticulture in our region and look forward to being on the reference group and working with the Manjimup-Pemberton horticulture sector to find viable water solutions backed by science.” 

Expert advice and support will be provided by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and DWER to support the group. Nominations for the reference group are now being sought.

1 Comment

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  1. Kim nawell 12 months ago

    Blind greed with devastation to world class forests has been avoided. Possibly we has matured as a culture or is it that conservatives are not in power. Their were voices in the early part of the twentieth century alarmed at the destruction of our forests which led to a Royal Commision. It found there was no issue resulting in logging of 100% of the Jarrah forest. At least with the Karri forests we have large areas of old growth in tact. Basically all Karri forest left that is old growth shouldn’t be touched plus large areas of logged forest should be left to regenerate.

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