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High tide for water strategy

A PUBLIC water forum in Kalgoorlie last week has highlighted the differing perceptions on the State’s water supply situation.

Some say reality dictates the Goldfields Esperance region needs an additional water supply now.

Others say this is more an ideal, a wish to enhance social amenities and boost quality-of-life factors, to attract new industries and to keep professionals and their families in the region.

The recently released Goldfields Esperance water supply strategy report concludes: “There is adequate water available to satisfy near term requirements.”

The Goldfields demand is still transported 600 kilometres from Mundaring Weir, with the supply supplemented with ground water.

Kalgoorlie has endured water restrictions for the past decade, but this has been seen as a lack of capacity of the current supply scheme, rather than a shortage of water.

The Water Corporation has responded by installing additional pumping capacity and storage along the pipeline, plus additional storage in Kalgoorlie.

However, the best long term solution is seen as a new water system.

Hence, this year’s water supply report, and Goldfields Esperance Minister Nick Griffiths’ subsequent comment that the report: “Demonstrated that a new arrangement to meet potable water needs was potentially the best strategy.” along the pipeline, plus additional storage in Kalgoorlie.

However, the best long term solution is seen as a new water system.

Hence, this year’s water supply report, and Goldfields Esperance Minister Nick Griffiths’ subsequent comment that the report: “Demonstrated that a new arrangement to meet potable water needs was potentially the best strategy.”

The Goldfields mining industry sources the bulk of its water from regional paleochannels, which are estimated to be able to supply predicted industry demand for the next 45 years.

The industry has expressed concern it may be required to support the economic viability of a new water scheme, paying double the amount of current supply costs.

An environmental levy for continued use of paleochannel water use is also a less-than-popular suggestion.

By the end of October the WA Government will have completed its round of regional water forums, held a water symposium, and closed off submissions on the strategy report.

A commonly held view is that it is time for the next phase of the Goldfields-Esperance strategy – to invite detailed proposals.

Some of the proposals considered in the report included using water from the Officer and Eucla Basins to supply some or all of new and existing demand.

United Utilities Australia, which submitted an expression of interest to the Goldfields Esperance water supply strategy steering committee, is keen to supply a more detailed proposal, if invited.

The lead partner in a consortium including Goldfields Utilities and engineering and financial institutions, United Utilities Australia wants to supply desalinated seawater from Esperance through to the Goldfields.

United Utilities general manager business development Don Richardson said it appeared that private enterprise may not have a strong role to play in future water strategies to the region.

But he argues the Government would be well advised to allow participation by the private sector.

As the company is not asking the Government to be a client of the proposed seawater scheme, Mr Richardson believes it would be in the State’s best interest to allow the company to spend its own money.

The Goldfields mining industry sources the bulk of its water from regional paleochannels, which are estimated to be able to supply predicted industry demand for the next 45 years.

The industry has expressed concern it may be required to support the economic viability of a new water scheme, paying double the amount of current supply costs.

An environmental levy for continued use of paleochannel water use is also a less-than-popular suggestion.

By the end of October the WA Government will have completed its round of regional water forums, held a water symposium, and closed off submissions on the strategy report.

A commonly held view is that it is time for the next phase of the Goldfields-Esperance strategy – to invite detailed proposals.

Some of the proposals considered in the report included using water from the Officer and Eucla Basins to supply some or all of new and existing demand.

United Utilities Australia, which submitted an expression of interest to the Goldfields Esperance water supply strategy steering committee, is keen to supply a more detailed proposal, if invited.

The lead partner in a consortium including Goldfields Utilities and engineering and financial institutions, United Utilities Australia wants to supply desalinated seawater from Esperance through to the Goldfields.

United Utilities general manager business development Don Richardson said it appeared that private enterprise may not have a strong role to play in future water strategies to the region.

But he argues the Government would be well advised to allow participation by the private sector.

As the company is not asking the Government to be a client of the proposed seawater scheme, Mr Richardson believes it would be in the State’s best interest to allow the company to spend its own money.

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