Drought persists in the Gascoyne
Released 26 Nov 2010
The no-flow period is approaching that of the district's drought of 1993-94.
The department's Acting Regional Manager for the Midwest Gascoyne, Adam Maskew, said it was highly unlikely that the Gascoyne River would flow, and replenish the important groundwater aquifers until at least early 2011when river flows could result from cyclonic events, or early thunderstorm activity.
Mr Maskew said the department and the Water Corporation had recently monitored the aquifers and it appeared that they were more stressed at this period than similar periods in the past.
"The department will continue to work with the water service providers to ensure the sustainable groundwater abstraction will continue. Regular updates will be provided as the situation develops," Mr Maskew said.
"Declines in groundwater storage in both the shallow and deep aquifer systems, together with increases in groundwater salinity are consistent with the results of groundwater abstraction carried out through a period of no groundwater recharge.
"We would like to remind licensees that they need to review their current usage and expected cropping for the remainder of the year in light of these drought conditions."
Mr Maskew said the department would continue to monitor salinity and water levels over the coming months. However, it was expected that the water quality and quantity of private bores licensed by the department would deteriorate with time, unless we receive reasonable river flows.
"The department is working with all stakeholders to balance the needs of the horticultural industry with protecting the water resource," he said
"It is a salient reminder that when the last significant flow was recorded in January 2009, the river aquifers were practically full. Since that time, dry conditions and water usage for irrigation of the horticultural district have depleted the aquifers.
"I would remind growers that when water in their wells reaches one thousand milligrams per litre of total dissolved salts (mg /L TDS); the department will issue notices to cease pumping until the water quality improves. To date, 19 notices to cease pumping have been issued to growers during this drought period.
"This drought strategy has been developed to protect industry users from short-term drought events and to minimise the effects of saline intrusion during drought periods.
"Continued imposition of the drought provisions will ensure long term benefit benefit both to industry and the environment, and assist in sustainable ongoing horticulture production during this dry period.
"However, it is still encumbent on the growers that they use water wisely to ensure long-term sustainability of the aquifer.
"The department will continue to work closely with the Water Corporation and cooperatives throughout this drought period."
Contact: Dianne Dixon
Phone: (08) 6364 6983