Responding to climate change

Our public drinking water supply schemes have been affected by the same climatic conditions as those impacting farming and other businesses in the Great Southern area.

As a result, we are undertaking measures to secure water supply to those areas by:

Water carting

Carting occurs across the State when needed for small towns where the local water scheme relies heavily on rainfall.

When water sources reach a low level, water carting is considered the most cost-effective solution, as often there are only a small number of properties, and the cost to connect to a larger scheme far exceeds the cost of temporary carting.

Once the town’s own water supply begins to recover, carting will stop and the town is again supplied through its own local scheme.

We are carting drinking water to the following towns due to low storage levels in local dams:

Scheme Start date Properties served
Cranbrook February 2020 194
Hyden (Humps Dam)
January 2020
Salmon Gums August 2019 39
Ravensthorpe August 2018 302


We also cart to specific locations when certain areas of the scheme are under stress due to the impact of climate change. Currently these areas are:

Scheme Start date Properties served
Lake Grace (various locations on the scheme to support capacity) January 2020
Kulin(various locations on the scheme to support capacity) January 2020 255


In addition, we cart regularly to some towns for water quality reasons, which in some cases, are directly related to low storage levels in local dams. We're currently carting water, or are due to start, to the following towns:

Scheme Start date Properties served
January 2020
February 2020  17


For some towns water carting is undertaken as a long-term plan. These 'business as usual' towns include:

Scheme Properties served
Rocky Gully 42
Lake King 36
Grass Patch 25
Varley 28

Other schemes we are monitoring

In the absence of rainfall the following schemes are being assessed fortnightly:

Scheme Properties served
Denmark 2,445
Ongerup 95
Frankland 70
Borden 45
Munglinup 42

Denmark water carting

The water supply scheme in Denmark is not connected to a wider water supply network of pipelines like many other towns in the region. This means the town is currently reliant on rainfall into its dam for drinking water.

Denmark has recorded 3 of the driest years on record since 2014. This year is also tracking to be one of the driest years on record. This has resulted in significantly less water running into Quickup Dam – Denmark’s primary water source.

The long-term average streamflow into Quickup dam is about 2,000 million of litres per year. This year the dam is tracking to receive the lowest streamflow on record, with only around 300 million litres of water received so far.

We are constantly monitoring the water situation to ensure the best outcome for the community and deliver water in the most cost-efficient way. We have built infrastructure to expand the Great Southern temporary water carting program to Denmark to supplement the local water supply if needed.

Carting will not be required this summer (2019/20), but may be needed before the pipeline is finished, dependent on rainfall, streamflow and the salt levels at Denmark Dam. If the decision is made to begin carting water, we will advise the Denmark community well in advance.

Thank you for your support while we manage these essential changes to your water supply, including infrastructure upgrades and water-saving initiatives. We have determined the best route for a pipeline to connect Denmark to the LGSTWSS.

Towns under a Water Deficiency Declaration

As part of our response to assist those towns under a Water Deficiency Declaration, on behalf of the State Government and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation carting of stock water for animal welfare is underway to:

Location Carted from
Mount Short, Shire of Ravensthorpe
Holland Rock, Shire of Kent
Newdegate / Lake Grace
Tommy’s Dam/Mallee Hill, Shire of Lake Grace
Lake Grace
Ardler Road, Shire of Lake Grace
Newdegate / Lake Grace / South Kulin (GSTWS)
Grass Patch, Shire of Esperance
Jerramungup, Shire of Jerramungup
Mt Barker / Tambellup
Jerramungup (east) and Ravensthorpe (west), Shire of Jerramungup and Shire of Ravensthorpe
Mt Barker / Katanning / Tambellup

Fixed standpipes

Farming businesses that require stock water as a replacement for depleted on-farm supplies are encouraged to seek water from local strategic community water resources in the first instance. Shire offices are best placed to provide advice on these supplies. Some supplies might require swipe cards to be issued by the shire to enable access.

Where on-farm and strategic community water resources are not available, stock water can be obtained from regional shire fixed standpipes.

Water for spraying and other purposes can also be made available through Shire standpipes. Due to the high volumes required, and the potential impact on other users connected to our schemes, access must only be via high capacity standpipes.

Water is made available through Shire standpipes/tanks connected to our schemes for short-term emergency use, and it is important to be aware that standpipes should not be relied on a sole source of water as they can be subject to interruption. If water is needed for domestic purposes, it is important to have alternative arrangements in place.

We may have to temporarily restrict standpipes to preserve the safety and integrity of public drinking water supply schemes. In this instance, Shires will be provided with as much notice as possible so they can advise their standpipe users.

Shire standpipes

Shire standpipes are suitable for high capacity and low volume stock water. Please refer to the map below for standpipe location.

Please note, high volume use (eg; spray water ) must be taken from standpipes located on red pipelines (as indicated on the map).

Using fixed standpipes

What else are we doing to respond?

With the help of local Shires, we are installing buffer tanks at key local government standpipes to assist in smoothing peak demand and protecting scheme integrity.

We have also started planning how we will be able to assist DWER with provision of emergency stock water if required.

In addition, we are continuing to work with DWER to identify other possible under-utilised sources such as disused town dams. While these are outside of the immediate area, they may still be able to be directly accessed by farming businesses for stock water or carted from to reinforce existing strategic community supplies, or used for carting to emergency stock water points.

Other resources

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation - Rural water support

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development - 2019 drought seasonal and management information