Water supply planning
Economic growth and a drying climate are major challenges for water resource management and water supply development.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation carries out water supply planning to identify water demand-supply gaps well before they occur and identify future supply options. We also:
- provide technical and policy advice to government
- identify development 'hot spots' and major water supply options to support growth
- work with government and self-managed water supply stakeholders to ensure demand projections are considered and supply options are planned and implemented in due time
- work with water service providers to improve the security of town water supplies.
The department provides public information and advice to government on three levels – state, regional and local.
Our new water demand and supply model improves the accuracy of water demand and supply forecasts across the state. This allows us to highlight emerging issues, taking into account trends in economic growth and predictions of a drying climate.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation engages with planning and development agencies to ensure an integrated approach to regional development, land use planning, water planning and infrastructure priorities. We published the Pilbara regional water supply strategy in 2013, the Great Southern regional water supply strategy in 2014 and the Mid West regional water supply strategy in April 2015.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation works with government agencies and other organisations to advise on water supply options for developments that are of strategic significance to the state, such as the Ord River irrigation area expansion and heavy industry in Kwinana (Western Trade Coast heavy industry water supply strategy, 2016). Advice may include pre-feasibility and feasibility assessments of water supply options (e.g. Myalup irrigated horticulture managed aquifer recharge prefeasibility study, 2018).
We regulate the sustainable take of water and encourage efficient use of groundwater and surface water resources to meet additional demand. Future water supply options will be identified when this is no longer feasible. New water sources may include those that are not of drinking water quality, but can be utilised in other ways that are ‘fit-for-purpose’, such as using recycled wastewater to irrigate sporting ovals.
Water supply planning can be carried out at different geographic and time scales and at different levels of detail.
The strategic scale covers large geographic areas and looks further into the future, where a wider range of options can be considered. At smaller scales and closer timeframes, fewer options may be available or appropriate, and the costs and benefits can be assessed in greater detail and with more certainty.
Roles and responsibilities
In addition to our legislative functions, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation coordinates cross-agency advice on future water demand and water supply options, including:
- policy direction and advice on the best use of the state's water resources
- advice on how much water is available and how demand will change in the short, medium and long-term
- advice on water supply options to meet current and future water needs.
Water service providers and self-supplied water users also have roles and responsibilities in water supply planning and development.
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Water service providers
Self-supplied water users
Geographic scale of planning
State, regional and local
Regional scheme or development
Site and property
Water uses covered
All water uses
Town scheme water (potable, domestic, commercial, institutional, industrial)
Irrigation scheme water (non-potable, agriculture)
Mining, agriculture, industry, domestic, commercial, parks and gardens
Scale and range of water supply options assessed
All realistic major options meeting legislative requirements and government policy objectives
Range of feasible options leading to a preferred option to meet policy and commercial objectives
Small range or preferred option to meet commercial objectives or private needs
Type of water resource investigations
Water yield, quality and sustainability of water resources
Water yield and quality at a range of locations to meet licensing requirements and scheme needs
Water yield and quality at specific locations to meet licensing requirements and commercial or private needs
Role in supplying water
Setting sustainable limits on water abstraction
Licensing abstraction from water resources
Constructing source and scheme infrastructure and supplying customers
Constructing infrastructure for private use