Water to be carted from Albany to Denmark ahead of new $32m pipeline

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Gail Guthrie from the Denmark CCI and Chris Morris of WaterCorp at the Quickup Dam in 2008.
Camera IconGail Guthrie from the Denmark CCI and Chris Morris of WaterCorp at the Quickup Dam in 2008. Credit: Kerry Edwards

Water will be carted from Albany to Denmark as a stopgap measure while the State Government plans a new $32 million pipeline between the neighbouring towns.

The McGowan Government will spend up to $7m carting water to Denmark later this year to bolster the local drinking water scheme over summer before the new pipeline is built.

Water Minister Dave Kelly said steps needed to be taken to secure Denmark’s long-term water supply in the face of climate change, warning at the current rate Denmark could run out of water within a year.

Work on the pipeline is expected to start in 2020 after “extensive environment surveys and approvals to determine the best route”.

The pipeline will connect Denmark to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme, which already supplies Albany, Mt Barker, Narrikup, Kendenup and Porongurup.

The main source of water for the LWGSTWSS is the Albany borefield which stretches through Torndirrup National Park to the Albany Wind Farm.

Mr Kelly said Denmark could no longer solely rely on its dams because of a run of historically low rainfall.

He said the long-term average streamflow into Quickup Dam — the town’s main water source — was about 2000ML per year.

This year, the dam was on track for its lowest streamflow on record, with just 305ML received so far.

He has indicated that Albany’s water supply would be able to cope with the extra demand in the short-term.

“Like many parts in the South West of WA, Denmark simply doesn’t receive the amount of rain that it used to due to the very real impact of climate change,” Mr Kelly said.

Water Minister Dave Kelly says water will be carted from Albany to Denmark.
Camera IconWater Minister Dave Kelly says water will be carted from Albany to Denmark. Credit: Mogens Johansen

“Denmark’s water supply is solely reliant on rainfall. If we don’t act now, Denmark could run out of water before next winter.”

In the meantime, Stage 5 water restrictions will come into effect for Denmark from October 1, along with a WaterWise Towns Program.

State 5 restriction means sprinklers can only be used once a week during summer.

The WaterWise Towns Program will involve free showerhead swaps, irrigation checks, plumbing checks and rainwater tank rebates.

Those measures are expected to save 29ML of water — equivalent to about three weeks’ water supply.

Mr Kelly said the plan would not impact Denmark residents’ water bills because the State Government subsidised regional customers to ensure they paid no more than Perth customers for the first 300KL of water used.

He said the water shortage situation could have been avoided if the previous Liberal National Government had acknowledged climate change and built the Albany pipeline in 2015 — the last time State 5 restrictions were implemented in Denmark.

However Stage 5 restrictions were also in place in Denmark more than a decade ago under a Labor Government, when similar criticisms were levelled at the Government by politicians and community leaders.

In 2008, when water was being carted to the town, Nationals MP Terry Redman said there was no excuse for the water shortages because the State Government knew the climate was drying and towns were growing.

Then Denmark Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Gail Guthrie said the drinking water shortages were bound to happen because the government had done nothing while the town expanded.

But Labor’s Water Resources Minister John Kobelke said he was confident there was sufficient planning to ensure supplies were maintained in the Great Southern.

At the time, WaterCorp confirmed it was considering a desalination plant for the Albany region as a long-term solution.

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