Surface water still crucial to Perth’s water supply
Released 15 Oct 2008
Understanding and managing surface water sources for Perth would be one of the greatest challenges faced in keeping the state's water resources sustainable in the foreseeable future, Department of Water Director General Kim Taylor said today.
Working to ensure that the run-off into our dams continued alongside adequate water to meet environmental needs given unpredictable rainfall patterns remains an important challenge, Mr Taylor said.
The comments were made to the state's leading water resource managers and researchers at a seminar convened to explore the relationship between effective surface water catchments and vegetation.
Mr Taylor said the state had come a long way in getting a grip on climate change and its effect on available water.
The Department of Water and the Water Corporation were exploring and developing alternative water sources such as desalination, recycling and managed aquifer recharge, but surface water remained an important component of Perth's water supply, he said.
Research tabled at the seminar has revealed new insights into the impact on water resources from declining rainfall patterns across the state.
"Managing our surface water catchments to ensure water supply to our environmental and social needs is even more critical and difficult given our changing climate," he said.
"The greater understanding we now have of the relationship between climate change, variable rainfall patterns and the state of surface water catchments had been achieved by long term monitoring, targeted investigations and by government, researchers, industry and the community working together to tackle water resource challenges.
"Looking to the future and the title of this seminar – Surface water is not dead – yet! – there are predictions that if current trends continue, then, by 2050, the contribution to drinking water supplies from our hills reservoirs will be significantly affected.
"Such future climate scenarios do not, of course, affect just water in our reservoirs.
"While deeper aquifers are buffered from impacts in the short term, in the longer term declining rainfalls will affect recharge to confined aquifers.
"What it all means is that, while we have been productive to date in this decade, we must continue to be innovative – allocating and sharing water in more efficient ways and recycling it better.
"People's social values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours in regard to water sustainability, have the potential to support or undermine any steps for improved water management.
"Therefore, if we want responsible attitudes to water use, we must increase understanding of the true value of water across all user groups."
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441