First created in 1996, we have a vast history dating back all the way to the 1890’s. Before we were Water Corporation we had numerous agency names like Metropolitan Water Works Board, WA Public Works Department, and Water Authority of WA. Today we employ over 5,000 people with offices in Perth, Bunbury, Albany, Karratha, Geraldton, Northam and Kalgoorlie.

120 years of service

A long serving member of our team, this year marks the 120th anniversary of CY O’Connor’s Goldfields Pipeline. 

A man of vision, CY O'Connor saw great potential in delivering a reliable water supply to the arid goldfields. He knew a solution to its water problem had to be found so he set out to build the most ambitious engineering project of his time. Construction began in 1894 and was completed in 1903. 

The pipeline was a marvel of engineering, featuring state-of-the-art pumps and valves that could push water over hills and through valleys. The water it brought to the goldfields transformed the desert into lush and productive land. Towns and cities sprang up along the pipeline's route, and the population of the goldfields boomed. 

These days CY O'Connor's legacy lives on. The Golden Pipeline is a testament to his vision and determination, and it changed the face of Western Australia forever.

Welding pipes on the historic Goldfields pipeline, circa 1930 to 1940
Welding pipes on the historic Goldfields pipeline, circa 1930 to 1940.

John Tonkin Water Centre

The corner of Loftus and Newcastle Street in Leederville has long been part of our water story. Years before the construction of John Tonkin Water Centre in the 1980s, the site was home to a number of important water supply assets for the city. 

The earliest record we have for the site is of the construction of Leederville bores one and two and the associated Steam Pumping Station that sent water to Mt Eliza. These bores, still referred to in some documents as the garage and paint shop bores, exist to this day, however are now capped and were replaced by Leederville bore six in the 1990s. 

Inside the Loftus Street Pumping Station in 1916
Inside the Loftus Street Pumping Station in 1916.

Compared to today’s standards, the pump station was much larger as the pumps themselves were big and required a steam engine and boilers to operate them. In 1915 the pump station was upgraded to cater to the growing needs of the city and the site reached its full capacity by 1938. By this time the site had a meter testing facility, the “garage and transport sections,” welding and fabrication shops, foundry, electrical fitting shop, a surveyor’s room, and a worker’s mess rooms. 

In the mid-1900s the Loftus Street Depot was built, the major works depot for all of Perth. It was closed in the late 1970s making way for the construction of our current John Tonkin Water Centre in the 1980s. 

Our marvellous Mt Eliza Reservoir

Next time you’re at Kings Park (Kaatagarup) take a moment to look around – the Reservoir at Mt Eliza remains critically important to Perth’s water supply today. Perth’s initial reservoir – old Pond One located at Mt Eliza – was built as part of the Victoria Scheme in 1890 and held 784 thousand gallons (3.6ML).

The 1890s were a period of rapid population growth in Perth but this resulted in a strain on the city's water supply. It’s said that some households in Perth went without water for days because the pipe connecting to the Mount Eliza reservoir was too small.

Aerial view of Mount Eliza reservoir in the early 1900's
Aerial view of Mount Eliza reservoir in the early 1900's.

Due to Perth’s steady growth in demand, we progressively added more storage and increased the number of mains feeding into Mt Eliza. We also have artesian bores which feed directly into the reservoir:

  • Initially in 1905, the three Leederville bores, and another from the Causeway.
  • Then in 1931 the Mounts Bay bore – which you can see next to the Old Swan Brewery. 

Today only Leederville bores five and six feed into the reservoir.

Apart from reticulating the Perth CBD, over the years a number of distribution mains have been connected into Mt Eliza to provide water to Perth’s growing suburbs. Many of these are still in service today. Mt Eliza feeds quite a large zone even today and remains a critical piece of our water infrastructure and history.