Article – Untapped water resources discovered in WA's Pilbara 'could drive agriculture expansion'

5 August 2014
ABC News
Huge untapped water sources in Western Australia’s Pilbara could drive a bold expansion of towns, agriculture and industry in the region, the State Government has said.
A study into underground reservoirs of the West Canning Basin near Sandfire has revealed it could supply an additional 50 gigalitres of water a year, on top of 50 gigalitres previously found in the area.
Water Minister Mia Davies has told 720 ABC Perth a further 30 gigalitres of groundwater a year has also been found in the Pilbara’s Hamersley Range.
“This particular region has incredible amounts of water, but knowing that there is water there and knowing where it is, and how much there is and what a sustainable take can be is quite another thing,” she said.
“That’s why the State Government is trying to stay ahead of the curve with this investigation program so that we can meet the expansion of our Pilbara.
“We will be able to prove over the next couple of years exactly this 50 gigalitres so that we know what is sustainable in terms of take, it will become part of our allocation plan.
“We have already proven up the 50 gigalitres prior to that, so half of that is already proven up and allocated for irrigation on pastoral leases, for mining ventures, for town water supply.
“So we can get on and start making sure that it’s useable once we have actually proven up the amount.”
Ms Davies said some investment in infrastructure to access the water would be needed.
“There will be some investment in infrastructure and whether that’s State Government, whether that’s private sector, that’s all to be determined,” she said.
Ms Davies added the discoveries would open up new opportunities in WA’s north.
“We have some really exciting opportunities for irrigated agriculture,” she said.
“We are talking about opening up irrigated agriculture across the state and you start to talk about diversification of economies and you start to talk about real opportunity.”
Courtesy ABC News