What is the best option to secure our water supply?

While other options were considered before deciding on building a pipeline, the continued decline in rainfall in Denmark has led to the decision that the pipeline would best secure water supply in the longer term.

Water Corporation has fast-tracked investigations to determine the best route for a pipeline to connect Denmark to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme (LGSTWSS).

The LGSTWSS supplies drinking water to Albany, Mt Barker, Kendenup and Narrikup. The majority of water for the scheme is sourced from groundwater on the South Coast Peninsula around Albany, with a portion sourced from surface water in the Two Peoples Bay catchment area.

In October 2019, Water Corporation completed flora and fauna surveys for the pipeline, which provided important information on the local environment and potential impacts. Selecting a route that will have the least impact on the local environment is one of our key priorities. This is why the pipeline route will largely be along road reserves and cleared areas wherever possible.

By the start of 2020, Water Corporation expects to have assessed this information to determine the most feasible pipeline option, and will be progressing discussions with land owners who may be along the pipeline route.

Water Corporation will share more information about the pipeline in the coming months, with construction expected to begin in June 2020, subject to all necessary approvals.

Connecting water supply schemes to larger ones to guarantee supply is nothing new, and Water Corporation has been doing this over a number of years in response to declining rainfall.

In 2017, the Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme, which supplies 44 towns in the Upper Great Southern from Harris Dam in Collie, was connected to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme (IWSS). The IWSS can source water from desalination from the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant in Binningup as well as groundwater and dams.

Will the pipeline from Albany to Denmark also allow water to be piped the other way around, for example, would water be taken from Denmark to supply Albany?

No, water will be piped from Albany to Denmark, not the other way around.

The pipeline will be constructed in such a way that the bulk of the water delivered will be delivered from the LGSTWSS to Denmark under gravity, so initially there will be no assisted pumping at all. In the future, any pumps installed would be designed to help push water in from the Albany end only, so not able to bring water the other way.

Is there enough water for Albany, as well as Denmark, once they share the same water scheme?

Water Corporation continues to work closely with DWER as we investigate options to secure long-term water supplies for the LGSTWSS, while managing the local groundwater system.

DWER is in the process of developing the Albany and hinterlands water allocation plan – for public comment which covers how groundwater and surface water will be managed and regulated in this area. This plan sets allocation limits about how much water can be licensed, and how much water is left in the aquifer for the environment.

DWER has set the 2018-19 allocation limit for the Albany Groundwater Area at 6.91 billion litres – for all water users. Water Corporation has an allocation of 5.35 billion litres each year, which is enough to supply the towns currently supplied by the LGSTWSS and Denmark when it is connected to the scheme.

The impacts of drawing more groundwater from the Albany Groundwater Area are being investigated and scientifically modelled to determine how much could be allocated sustainably as the climate continues to dry.

DWER and Water Corporation will continue to work together to identify, plan, communicate and manage current and future demand, which will also help inform our longer term planning for future sources.