19/03/2007 - 09:25

Yarragadee plan sustainable: Panel

19/03/2007 - 09:25


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The State Government's independent Sustainability Panel has declared a proposal to extract 45 gigalitres of water per year from the South West's Yarragadee aquifer is sustainable.

Yarragadee plan sustainable: Panel

The State Government's independent Sustainability Panel has declared a proposal to extract 45 gigalitres of water per year from the South West's Yarragadee aquifer is sustainable.



The full text of an announcement from the panel is pasted below

The Report to Government of the independent Sustainability Panel concerning the proposal of the Water Corporation to extract 45 gigalitres a year of water from the South West Yarragadee aquifer was released today.

The Report was commissioned by the State Water Council to provide transparent, independent and publicly available advice to the State Government on the adequacy of the sustainability evaluation of the SW Yarragadee Water Supply proposal and whether the development would be sustainable.

Panel Chair, Barbara Wiese, said the Panel had concluded that the sustainability evaluation undertaken was comprehensive and thorough.

"The Panel believes the SW Yarragadee proposal will be sustainable and should be allowed to proceed subject to the implementation of stringent adaptive management and monitoring commitments of the Water Corporation and the recommended conditions of the EPA", she said.

The Panel, which was established in December 2004, has provided advice to Government and the proponent progressively throughout the evaluation process to ensure that all relevant environmental, social and economic factors were properly taken into account in the decision-making process on this project and to strive for net benefit outcomes - socially, economically and environmentally.

Ms Wiese said the Panel believes the project has been well planned to achieve 'net benefit' outcomes, socially, economically and environmentally.

"The Panel recommends this approach of sustainability assessment to the Government for other complex and strategic decisions as it allowed key issues that otherwise may have been overlooked in the statutory assessment processes, to be identified and taken into account during project development stage", she said.

For the Panel, the key points to come out of the sustainability evaluation were:

  • Knowledge of the Yarragadee aquifer and important areas in the South West that may be affected by further development of the resource is now vastly improved, but we will not understand fully the effects of water extraction until pumping commences.
  • The proposed adaptive management approach, including oversight by local as well as expert bodies, will ensure continued monitoring of the aquifer and timely intervention if problems emerge, thus protecting the resource and also the interests of local users. In this context, the current 120 gigalitres a year extraction limit should be considered a starting point only and should be managed under an adaptive management process.
  • A clear understanding of the views of residents in the South West and particularly their concern for 'futures forgone' should the project go ahead. The extensive consultation with people in the South West resulted in changes to the project which will provide the opportunity in the future for the Integrated Water Supply System to be extended into the South West, thus providing greater certainty and future net benefits for residents of the region.
  • The project highlighted the need to develop a clear policy for defining 'reasonable regional needs' and a transparent, equitable water allocation mechanism to ensure a sharing of risk by all potentially affected parties should competition for water occur.
  • Future sustainability assessments should include early coordination and cooperative participation by key agencies and be conducted in a broad policy framework, including comparisons with any alternative options that may be able to deliver required outcomes, including timeliness of implementation.

The final decision on the SW Yarragadee water development proposal will be made by State Cabinet after taking into account the Sustainability Panel's report and the decision of the Minister for the Environment (following the report of the Independent Appeals Convenor) on environmental matters.


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