Sustainability an Essential Criteria for Success in the Midlands Water For Food Project

Shane Love1 (2)
Mr Shane Love, MLA, WA State Member for Moore, opening the Water for Food community consultation forum in Jurien Bay

“It is important to acknowledge that this needs to be sustainable from an environmental perspective from the very beginning,” said Shane Love, the WA State Member for Moore, as he opened the Water for Food community consultation forum in Jurien Bay this week.

There was a full house at the “Midlands Groundwater and Land Assessment Workshop”, with more than 60 people attending, representing community and commercial interests, as well as local and state government agencies and organisations.

Hosted by the Midlands Water Community Reference Group, which is chaired by Mr Love, the workshop was organised to seek community input into the development of the $4.7 million Water for Food Midlands project. Focusing on water resources and land availability, the project aims to identify precincts suitable for intensive irrigated agriculture between Gingin and Dongara.

Following a short series of introductions and background information sessions (which included a presentation on regional groundwater hydrology), workshop participants focused their attention on three core subject areas: soils and landscapes; planning and infrastructure; and markets and investment. During these sessions, workshop participants with a particular interest in each of these three areas were able to identify what they considered to be the most important criteria that need to be considered in each case.

Key starting criteria included availability of groundwater resources; salinity levels; depth to the groundwater; allocation availability; and proximity to groundwater dependent ecosystems. Other factors that came under consideration included access to power; transport and labour; land tenure; environmental factors; and potential conflicting land-use demands.

During a final plenary session, two other key criteria were elevated for consideration: the need for sustainability, and to allow for the impacts of climate change on recharge (and water demand). Both were highlighted as significant factors that needed to be ranked higher for consideration when assessing the water and land resources.

Land tenure, and environmental assets and ecosystem services were also elevated as key criteria by workshop participants during the final plenary. Competing land and water uses – including potential mining activities in the region – was also ranked highly by some participants.

Mr Love said the workshop was very constructive and productive, and would provide the Community Reference Group much material to consider and incorporate into the future development of the project.


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