Shire backs Minderoo weir proposal

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News

Minderoo Station’s proposal for a “leaky” weir development on the Ashburton River to help drought-proof the property has received the Shire of Ashburton’s blessing.

Managers of the Forrest family’s station want to build up to 10 upside-down weirs along the Ashburton River in an effort to boost groundwater recharge for exis-ting agricultural use of the land.

Shire councillors, who opposed the project last year, voted seven to one in support of the application subject to conditions.

A Minderoo spokeswoman said most State Government approvals were now in place for what is understood to be a world-first development.

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“The weirs are part of Minderoo Station’s decade-long mission to help mitigate the impacts of drought and we expect to be able to advance these developments later this year,” she said.

“We recently presented the proposal to the broader community at a meeting in Onslow and have, on many occasions over the past five years, sought to explain the project to the local traditional custodians.”

The weirs would enable Minderoo access to 13.2 gigalitres of water which would otherwise run into the ocean.

The leaky nature of the weirs mean fish would still be able to migrate. Shire of Ashburton president Kerry White put down previous opposition to a lack of information around considerations such as hydrology modelling.

“While the new information provided by the applicant has enabled the council to now support the application, it considered it prudent to condition that the project is carried out in a staged manner to ensure that any unconsidered impacts become apparent prior to commencing the full program,” she said.

Concerns raised by the Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation were the other key factor when the Shire council opposed the initial application.

The Ashburton River is integral to ceremonial and ritual activities for the Thalanyji people.

BTAC failed to respond by time of print. The Minderoo spokeswoman said opportunities to work with BTAC would be made available.

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