Plans reach fork in salinity pipeline

27 Apr, 2005 08:45 PM

WHILE the debate about channelling saline Wheatbelt water to the ocean continues to rage, a new proposal seeks to send the water further inland to the Goldfields.

The scheme has been suggested by outgoing Member for the Mining and Pastoral region John Fisher and his adviser Graeme Campbell.

It has been embraced by the WA Channel Management Group (WACMG), which is behind the ocean proposal.

Mr Campbell said there was room for an extra 4 gigalitres of water to be pumped down the Mundaring to Kalgoorlie water pipeline each year, and the Kalgoorlie mining industry used 3.5gL each year for processing.

He said the Wheatbelt water was less saline than seawater and was ideal for ore processing.

"We could get a new permanent body of water out here, with a containment lake, which the mining companies could pipe their water from and we could also use for recreation," Mr Campbell said.

He said there was a huge amount of water beneath the Wheatbelt, but the Goldfields proposal could make a significant contribution to removing it.

"It would more than get rid of the townsite salinity problem in Merredin for example," he said.

He said companies including Heron Resources supported the scheme because it was a cheap source of water.

The benefit was that most of the infrastructure was in place in the form of the pipeline.

The WA State Government could build arterial drains to channel the water to the pipeline, and farmers could lead their drains into them.

He said draining to the ocean remained the most suitable solution for removing the bulk of the Wheatbelt's saline water.

"I don't believe any of the arguments against it, acid water and the like, these are things that the mining industry deals with every day," he said.

He said the Water Corporation previously said there was no problem in batch pumping salt and fresh water at different times, but some staff had contradicted this by suggesting there were health concerns.

"I don't believe there are any health concerns, all you do is you flush out the pipe, the water is treated once it gets here anyway," he said.

"I don't have a lot of faith in the Water Corporation, a lot of them seem to be totally incompetent."

WACMG project coordinator Claudia Hadlow said the group intended to meet with the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Mines, and Murchison-Eyre member John Bowler, to discuss progressing the proposal.

"It is certainly something that we will to continue to look at," Ms Hadlow said.

WACMG has instigated a Wheatbelt Drainage Alliance (WDA) with farmer representatives from four regions - the Avon, Northern Agricultural, South Coast and South-West catchments.

It has met with WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance and plans to meet with Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell to discuss channelling more federal and state government funds into on-ground engineering projects.

Ms Hadlow said the plan to link drainage in the Yarra Yarra catchment through an arterial channel, was particular worthy of funding.

"It's still in its infancy but the guys up there are really getting on with it," Ms Hadlow said.

"They (WDA) are going to bring up with Ian Campbell the fact that right across the state there are landowners that are going to be going ahead with regional drainage projects.

"In the Yarra Yarra catchment they're looking at integrated catchment projects that have the support of local government and the regional natural resource management councils.

"There are 12 shires involved, so drainage is being coordinated across the whole area."

Mr Chance told the WDA he had to meet with Environment Minister Judy Edwards to discuss the matters raised in the meeting he attended.



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