Proclamation plan for SW

30 Jul, 2003 10:00 PM
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PLANS are under way to proclaim the Whicher region in the South West as part of a new surface and ground water security strategy.

The Whicher Water Resource Management Committee endorsed proclamation two months ago, at the same time the Environment Department suggested fees to help fund management of licenced dams.

One argument against proposed dam fees, that would affect other areas, has been that some people would pay and others wouldn't. The Whicher proclamation could weaken that argument.

The Whicher region encompasses the South West corner of WA, with the eastern boundary running between Capel, Nannup and Augusta.

This area also covered 95pc of the South Yarragadee aquifer.

Half the Capel shire had been included for proclamation to ensure uniformity of water resource management within the region.

Water and Rivers Commission senior project officer Neville Welsh said proclamation had been proposed due to a dramatic increase in surface and ground water use in the region.

He said only the Margaret River and Capel River catchments were proclaimed in the region which meant other tributaries and streams could be dammed regardless of what impact it had downstream.

"Areas outside these two river catchments are unproclaimed which means there is no security over the water resources," he said.

The Augusta-Margaret River and Busselton shires had agreed to proclamation to ensure uniform water security management, he said.

Mr Welsh, an executive officer on the Whicher committee, said the government would ultimately decide who helped pay for management of the water resources.

If State Government rejected the Environment Department's dam licence fees proposal, a Model Dams Policy in partnership with shires could be another option.

This system would work through development of local by-laws, which would allow fees to be raised for managing water resources in specific areas.

The model dams policy could serve to raise fees in proclaimed areas if Government rejected licenced dam fees or if proclamation did not succeed.

The 14-member Whicher committee, chaired by Busselton dairy farmer Barry Oates, voted to proceed with proclamation and a model dams policy.

WA Fruit Growers Association executive officer Rob McFerran said there should only be proclamation where areas approached 90pc allocation.

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