Proposed water cuts anger North Wanneroo growers

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The McGowan Government has proposed a 10 per cent reduction to groundwater allocations for growers in the North Wanneroo area from 2028. File picture

DEALING with declining water availability and North Wanneroo horticulturists concerned about the uncertainty of water and land use planning was never going to be an easy task.

When the North Wanneroo Agriculture and Water Taskforce was formed in 2017 it brought together government and industry stakeholders to consider issues stopping horticultural development in Carabooda, Nowergup and Neerabup.

The McGowan Government said the taskforce would consider options for water efficient horticulture, impacts of climate change, ways to support new horticultural development and creating land and water security to facilitate investment.

On Wednesday, January 30 Nowergup resident and Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton, who chaired the taskforce, said the government was delivering on its election commitment by resolving water allocation issues that had long caused uncertainty for local growers.

 Ms Winton said the government had struck a balance between meeting the needs of growers and ensuring long-term water sustainability for the wider community.

But horticulturists in the area had already been angered by an earlier announcement by Water Minister Dave Kelly, which proposed a 10 per cent reduction to groundwater allocations for growers in the North Wanneroo area from 2028.

This more than halved the 25 per cent originally proposed in 2016, under the previous Liberal National Government but it did not go down well with North Wanneroo Residents Association chairman Mark Zaga reportedly saying if landowners faced water cuts they needed to be compensated.

In a statement earlier on January 30 Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the taskforce had worked hard to deal with the challenge of sustaining urban horticulture in a drying climate.

 “North Wanneroo’s agriculture industry continues to make a significant contribution to the local economy and the state’s agricultural exports, and it is important that we keep our existing irrigated land to supply fresh and diverse produce to the people of Perth,’’ she said.

 “Now that we have clarity on water allocation for the next 10 years, we can work together with industry to improve water efficiency.

 “There are constraints around water availability and growers need to be supported to operate in a drier climate.

“Our water use efficiency program will assess techniques and systems to help growers.

 “The state government will work with growers and the local community to develop a water scheme and lead a cost benefit analysis on a new agricultural precinct at State Forest 65.

“We will also be making a case for commonwealth funding through the national water infrastructure development fund.”

When he announced the 10 per cut proposal Mr Kelly said the proposed reduction would be included in the draft Gnangara groundwater allocation plan, which would be released for consultation later this year.

Mr Kelly said the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation was also working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to assist North Wanneroo growers – piloting independent water use assessments and developing best practice irrigation demonstration sites.

The new Gnangara groundwater allocation plan will be released for a three-month public comment period.

He said due to climate change, groundwater taken from Perth’s groundwater aquifers north of the Swan River needed to be reduced within the next decade.

“This will ensure groundwater remains a long-term viable and low-cost water source for Perth, and continues to support important wetlands and vegetation around our city,’’ he said.

“The 10 per cent reduction to groundwater use will not be implemented until 2028.

“This scale and timeframe for this reduction will make it easier for people to adjust.”

Yanchep News Online has attempted to contact the North Wanneroo Residents Association for further comment.