Water Innovation conversation

Welcome to the conversation

Water is essential for enabling our communities to flourish, our economy to grow and for sustaining our precious waterways and wetlands. The Department of Water is looking to build on successes in water management and innovation to date. We believe that there are further gains to be made and opportunities to be explored.

We recognise the contribution the community and private sector can make to developing innovative and creative water solutions, that provide practical and cost effective answers to the water challenges we face. If you are interested in being part of the discussion and would like to share your ideas, we invite you to register at 'Your say WA Water'.


Welcome to the conversation

Water is essential for enabling our communities to flourish, our economy to grow and for sustaining our precious waterways and wetlands. The Department of Water is looking to build on successes in water management and innovation to date. We believe that there are further gains to be made and opportunities to be explored.

We recognise the contribution the community and private sector can make to developing innovative and creative water solutions, that provide practical and cost effective answers to the water challenges we face. If you are interested in being part of the discussion and would like to share your ideas, we invite you to register at 'Your say WA Water'.


  • Myalup – Wellington project

    11 months ago
    Wellingtondam1_web

    Water that is suitable for intensive agriculture is a rare commodity in the South West of Western Australia. Climate warming and reduced inflow to dams means that little water is readily available to agriculture.

    The Collie Basin, Collie River Catchment and the Wellington Dam in the South West of our state bucks this trend, as it is the second largest water reservoir behind only the Ord River in Western Australia.

    It is also one of the few southern catchment/dams that have generated enough inflows to see the dam overflow in recent years.

    For many... Continue reading

    Water that is suitable for intensive agriculture is a rare commodity in the South West of Western Australia. Climate warming and reduced inflow to dams means that little water is readily available to agriculture.

    The Collie Basin, Collie River Catchment and the Wellington Dam in the South West of our state bucks this trend, as it is the second largest water reservoir behind only the Ord River in Western Australia.

    It is also one of the few southern catchment/dams that have generated enough inflows to see the dam overflow in recent years.

    For many years the quality of water in the Wellington Dam has been declining. Rising salinity means that the reservoir, with its 85 gigalitres of annual allocation, has been under-utilised for some time. It has now come to the point that a number of farmers in the Collie River Irrigation District (CRID) have handed back their shares and water allocations because the water they receive from the Wellington Dam is unsuitable for their needs.

    The coastal Myalup region just north of Bunbury is also experiencing problems with water quality and increasing salinity levels. The area is a key agricultural asset to Western Australia and the level of horticultural production in the Myalup Irrigation Agriculture Precinct (MIAP) has undergone a major growth spurt in the past five years. However, salinity in irrigation water poses a risk to the farmers as the water is becoming unsuitable to use for irrigating vegetables.

    Issue

    Demand for food is growing, for both domestic and export markets. Farmers in the MIAP region are keen to expand their industry but require an additional 16GL of water to do so. In addition, another 8-l0GL will be required to recharge the aquifers under the MIAP region. Failing to do so will impact groundwater quality and the Department of Water has indicated that as a result, water licence allocations will have to be reduced significantly (up to 30 per cent). This will unavoidably lead to a drop in production and potential closure of many operating farms – a catastrophic event for Western Australia both in terms of domestic supply and potential export. If this problem is not addressed urgently, current agriculture activity and all future growth potential is under threat.

    Access to water of suitable quality is a key need for the region’s agricultural and industrial growth.

    Action so far

    The Department of Water put out an Expression of Interest (EOI) in August 2015, calling for viable solutions to increase the availability and use of water from the Wellington Dam so the Myalup Irrigation Agricultural Precinct and the Collie River Irrigation District can be maintained and further developed.

    After extensive evaluation of submissions by a Technical Advisory Group, four proposals were approved for further consideration. These are: Myalup-Wellington Water Corporation (MWWC) (including companies Aqua Ferre and Harvey Water); Harvey Water; and desalination proposals from Valoriza and IDE.

    The Myalup-Wellington Ministerial Steering Group will provide extensive leadership for the Myalup-Wellington project. The terms of reference of the group include:

    • confirming water and land resources to enable the value of food production in the Myalup region to double;

    • creating an appropriate mechanism to independently evaluate innovative concepts for below the wall desalination and other fit for purpose water technologies; and

    • to examine the feasibility and options of broadening the distribution of water across the Collie River Irrigation District.

    Additionally, technical advisory groups will be established to provide independent assessment and specialist advice as required. The Myalup-Wellington Steering Group feeds into the Water for Food Ministerial Steering Committee, comprising the Minister for Water (chair), Minister for Regional Development; Lands, and Minister for Agriculture and Food. This cross-portfolio committee directs delivery of the state wide $40million Royalties for Regions Water for Food program.

    Our current partners

    Membership of the Ministerial Steering group includes:

    • Minister for Water; Sport and Recreation; Forestry (Chair)

    • Minister for Housing; Racing and Gaming

    • Federal Member for Forrest

    • Department of Water, Water for Food Program

    • Vegetables WA

    • South West Development Commission

    • Bunbury Wellington Economic Alliance

    • Australian Water Association (WA Branch)

    • Office of the Minister for Regional Development; Lands

    • Office of the Minister for Water; Sport and Recreation; Forestry

    • Office of the Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries

    • Shire of Collie

    • Shire of Dardanup

    • Shire of Harvey

    The Steering Committee is supported by a Technical Advisory Committee with members from:

    • Department of Water, Water for Food (Chair)

    • CSIRO

    • Department of Agriculture and Food

    • Irrigation Australia Ltd

    • National Centre for Excellence in Desalination

    • South West Development Commission

    • VegetablesWA

    • Water Corporation


  • Airborne electromagnetic survey

    11 months ago
    Helicopter

    The Murchison Palaeochannels groundwater investigation project has taken an innovative approach to mapping palaeochannels (ancient buried river-beds) across very large areas using airborne electromagnetics (AEM) technology.

    The Department of Water commissioned an AEM survey in the Murchison River catchment. The survey included a helicopter that flew at approximately 90 m above the ground over the survey area with a coil slung 60 m beneath. The Department is working with CSIRO, whose researchers provide geophysical expertise on this project.

    Why is it important?

    Palaeochannel aquifers – ancient buried river channels – are an important groundwater resource where larger, regional sources are... Continue reading

    The Murchison Palaeochannels groundwater investigation project has taken an innovative approach to mapping palaeochannels (ancient buried river-beds) across very large areas using airborne electromagnetics (AEM) technology.

    The Department of Water commissioned an AEM survey in the Murchison River catchment. The survey included a helicopter that flew at approximately 90 m above the ground over the survey area with a coil slung 60 m beneath. The Department is working with CSIRO, whose researchers provide geophysical expertise on this project.

    Why is it important?

    Palaeochannel aquifers – ancient buried river channels – are an important groundwater resource where larger, regional sources are absent. While we know that significant groundwater resources may exist in the East Murchison area, to access them in the future we need more precise information on their location, their quality, and how much is available to use.

    This survey will help us more accurately map the paleochannels and will ensure the water resources can provide for sustainable agriculture and industry development without compromising the environmental qualities that support the area’s unique ecology, indigenous values and human interests.

    Why this approach?

    AEM technology started in the minerals industry but has become very widely used in the last decade for groundwater mapping. AEM data is acquired at regular intervals along flight lines, with the distance between these flight lines determined by the amount of mapping detail required. Closer flight lines result in higher resolution data, but this will similarly increase costs. As a general rule AEM survey designs also try to collect data by flying across the target being mapped rather than along it.

    A 'traditional' AEM survey design would cover the entire investigation area in a regular pattern. In the case of the Murchison Palaeochannels investigation this was not a practical approach. The size of the overall investigation area is around 180 000 km2, and to cover such a large area within the limits of the project budget would mean flying at such a wide line spacing that the final mapping would be unacceptably coarse.

    To solve this problem the project team adopted an innovative design approach for the Murchison Palaeochannels AEM survey. Because the overall project objective was to map the palaeochannels, and not the material in between, it was decided to attempt to constrain the survey design by limiting it to those areas where these features were most likely to be. This was done using other data such as the Multi-resolution Valley Bottom Flatness (MrVBF) – a method of determining where the lowest points in the landscape are - and other existing mapping. This information was also used to break the total survey area into smaller survey blocks, based on the most likely flow-direction of the palaeochannels (and therefore the flight lines).

    By taking this approach and concentrating our data collection on those areas that were most relevant, the project team was able to map the more than 52 000 km2 of palaeochannels within the 180 000 square kilometre project area for around a third of the cost of flying a traditional survey over the entire area.

    How will this help manage our water?

    This survey is part of a four year project that will map groundwater resources and assess aquifer sustainability so the Department of Water can develop and optimise groundwater models to manage water abstraction.

    The data gathered by the survey will be used by the Department of Water in a scientific process to assess the quantity, quality, availability and recharge of the region’s groundwater resources.

    By looking at existing and new groundwater sources, this work will contribute to better information on groundwater availability in the region and build further knowledge about groundwater recharge and sustainability.

    Reliable knowledge on available groundwater ensures future economic expansion and population growth in the region will not be constrained by a lack of information on water availability.

    Our partners

    This survey received funding from the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.

    The Department is working together with CSIRO.