Water rises as big issue for region

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Harding Dam.
Camera IconHarding Dam. Credit: Chris Lees

Concerns have been raised about the water supply for the West Pilbara after a relatively dry 2018-19 wet season and a forecast of low cyclones for 2019-20.

In the Karratha area, properties are connected to the West Pilbara Water Supply Scheme with Harding Dam the primary source.

The WPWSS is also boosted by the Millstream and Rio Tinto Bungaroo groundwater sources.

In Parliament last month, it was revealed Harding Dam is at just 22.34 per cent capacity, with Millstream and Bungaroo capable of supplying the WPWSS for the next 12 months.

Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan, representing Minister for Water Dave Kelly, said given the west Pilbara region had experienced very dry wet seasons in the past two years, Harding Dam had not received the flow needed to supply the town.

“The minister is aware that due to insufficient capacity, Harding Dam is expected to be taken offline by the end of the month,” she said.

“Six bores (within the water reserves) are in use, supplying water to the West Pilbara Water Supply Scheme, four bores are not in use due to salinity issues and the remaining two bores are awaiting mechanical repairs.”

Nationals WA Deputy Leader Jacqui Boydell said it was well known the Pilbara depended on rain events normally associated with tropical lows or cyclones.

“This year, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a below-average number of cyclones, which doesn’t bode well for a recharge of the Harding Dam and Millstream Aquifer,” she said.

“It is extremely short sighted and downright irresponsible to be looking only 12 months into the future when we are talking about secure and stable water supply for the engine room of our economy.”

When asked about the water supply issue, Mr Kelly said “the West Pilbara community will not run out of water” but was unable to say exactly how long current supplies would last, stating only that supply was “dependent on weather and customer demand in the region”.

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