Albany and hinterland water allocation plan
Why is the department preparing a water allocation plan for the Albany and hinterland area?
Planning is essential to make sure that our water supplies are secure for future generations and the needs of the community and the environment are protected. Water allocation plans are one of the most important tools that we use to manage our water resources. They set allocation limits and outline the local licensing policies and monitoring programs that will apply in the plan area.
The Albany water allocation plan will:
- cover both groundwater resources and local surface water resources
- account for the continuing effects of climate change on water availability
- confirm the availability and security of supply
- minimise risks of taking water on dependent ecosystems
- maintain water quality and the natural movement of the seawater interface.
Work to develop the Albany and hinterland water allocation plan began in 2017, following completion of the Albany conceptual and numerical groundwater modelling project and the state funded Albany hinterland prospective groundwater resources project. These two projects improved our understanding of groundwater resources in the area.
The department is using up to date climate information, groundwater modelling, and existing monitoring and metering data to evaluate the resources in the Albany groundwater area. This information is showing that groundwater levels have declined because of less rainfall and abstraction and in most subareas, groundwater abstraction is at its limit.
We are also reviewing the environmental flows for Angove Creek in the Two People’s Bay surface water area as it contributes to Albany’s water supply scheme. Importantly we are using the best available climate modelling, hydrological, biological and use information to determine the flows required to support the critically endangered Western Trout Minnow, Galaxius truttaceus hesperius.
Our review of the future water demand for Albany and towns of the Lower Great Southern, is being informed by the department’s 2014 Great Southern regional water supply strategy and Water Corporation’s 2010 Water Forever: Lower Great Southern.
The plan does not address access to, or use of, drinking water and wastewater supply. This is managed by the Water Corporation.
The Western Trout Minnow, Galaxius truttaceus hesperius (David Morgan)
The Albany groundwater area
The Albany groundwater area is 410 kilometres south of Perth, on the western margin of the Eucla Basin. It covers about 280 square kilometres and extends eastwards for 34 kilometres from Torbay Inlet, along the Southern Ocean coastline to Bald Head at the tip of Flinders Peninsula.
The Albany groundwater area was proclaimed in 1973 under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 to regulate how groundwater is taken and to protect the long-term availability of groundwater. The original proclaimed area was extended in 1975 and 1979. Abstracting and using groundwater in this area requires a licence.
The most significant groundwater supplies for the Albany region are in the sedimentary aquifers of the Eucla Basin. The basin is a geological formation extending the length of Western Australia’s southern coastline. The aquifers present in the Albany groundwater area are the Superficial, Middle Sands and Werillup aquifers.
Water for private use, such as horticulture, industry and stock and domestic use, is sourced from the unconfined watertable aquifer (Superficial aquifer). The public drinking water supply is sourced from the confined Middle Sands and Werillup aquifers, and currently makes up over 90 per cent of the public water supply for the Lower Great Southern area.
View over the Albany Groundwater Area towards Princess Royal Harbour, in Torndirrup National Park
The coastal strip of the groundwater area is covered by dense native vegetation, located in City of Albany reserves and Torndirrup National Park. The western third extends 14 kilometres inland through agricultural land, overlapping the Marbellup Brook catchment area water reserve.
Water quality in the Albany groundwater area is protected from contamination by managing land uses and associated activities in the South Coast Water Reserve water source protection area. The protection area was proclaimed in 1968, then realigned in 2001 to reflect the capture zones of the supply bores, current land uses, and to allow for future expansion of the borefield.
Albany groundwater area and water source protection reserves
The Albany hinterland extends 25 kilometres inland, covering 1200 square kilometres from the north west to the north east of the Albany urban area. The hinterland takes in the localities of Redmond, Napier and Manypeaks. The hinterland has strong potential for to support expansion in agricultural, fit for purpose industrial or potable (drinking water) supplies.
The unproclaimed Albany hinterland contains several large areas of groundwater. In unproclaimed areas, access to confined (or artesian) groundwater, is regulated under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914. Non-artesian groundwater in unproclaimed areas is unregulated at this stage.
The four hinterland areas with prospective groundwater resources were identified through the government funded South Coast groundwater investigation project. The study revealed a better picture of the groundwater resources in the Albany hinterland area. You can find information on likely water availability, quality, quantity, location and extent of each resource on the detailed Albany Hinterland prospective groundwater resources map.
Location of prospective groundwater resources in the hinterland study area
Two People’s Bay surface water area and Angove Creek
Two People’s Bay surface water area is located approximately 30 kilometres east of Albany, with water from Angove Creek used to supplement the public drinking water supplies for Albany and towns of the Lower Great Southern Region.
This area was proclaimed in 1997 under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 to regulate how water is taken from Angove Creek, protect important environmental values and the long-term availability of the supply.
Water quality is protected by managing the land uses in the Angove Creek catchment drinking water source protection area, proclaimed in 2012 under the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947.
The upper reaches of Angove Creek lie inside the Two People’s Bay surface water area, then flow into Angove Lake. The Angove system is an important water-dependent environmental feature of the area, supporting an isolated and landlocked population of the critically endangered Western Trout Minnow (Galaxius truttaceus hesperius).
The lower reaches of Angove Creek and a portion of Angove Lake are zoned Special Conservation, within a portion of the Two People’s Bay Nature Reserve.
Western Trout Minnow habitat, Angove Creek
The minnow and its environment are protected by the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The 2008 Western Trout Minnow Recovery Plan was adopted as a National Recovery Plan under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Two People’s Bay surface water area and Angove water source protection reserve
The plan covers the proclaimed Albany groundwater area, the proclaimed Two People’s Bay surface water area and the unproclaimed groundwater resources of the surrounding Albany hinterland.
It is divided into groundwater subareas, surface water areas and prospective groundwater zones to manage the resources and how water is allocated. The Albany groundwater area is divided into six subareas:
- Frenchman’s Bay
The Two People’s Bay surface water area is where water is pumped from Angove Creek.
The Albany hinterland groundwater resource areas are the King River, Kalgan River, Manypeaks and Nanarup zones.
The Albany and hinterland water allocation plan area
Groundwater use in this plan area is mainly for:
- public water supply for Lower Great Southern towns and the City of Albany
- irrigation of public open space and sporting grounds
- irrigated commercial horticulture
- stock watering and domestic gardens.
All these above uses are licensed, except stock watering and domestic garden use.
This school oval is irrigated by water pumped from the Superficial aquifer in the Albany groundwater area.
Angove Creek supplements groundwater use for public water supply, currently making up approximately 10 per cent of the total supply to towns of the Lower Great Southern Region. Pumping water from Angove Creek dam is regulated through a water licence.
Limeburner’s Creek was licensed for public drinking water supply up to 1999. It is no longer used as a source of public drinking water.