Project goal:

Secure Denmark's water supply.

Delivery Date:

2021

Status:

The construction of the 43km pipeline is currently underway. The project is on track to deliver a long term water supply solution for Denmark in less than 18 months.

To stay up to date and find out about our activities, please visit our engagement hub, where we have dedicated information updated regularly.

visit engagement hub

Denmark pipeline

Connecting Denmark to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme

We have determined the route for a pipeline to connect Denmark to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme and will continue to work with the local community while it is being constructed.

Investigations into the pipeline route considered the impact on the local environment and included comprehensive flora and fauna studies and survey work.

Denmark's situation

Denmark, like many parts of Western Australia, is experiencing the impact of climate change through declining rainfall.

The town has experienced one of its driest year since records began back in 1911.

This means Denmark's dams can no longer be relied upon as the sole source of water supply, as the town no longer receives consistent, annual rainfall.

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.

Water efficiency offer

Denmark residents can claim a rainwater tank rebate of up to $1,000 off a new rainwater tank plumbed in or up to $500 for a replacement tank or plumbing in an existing one.

Expand temporary water carting

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 upon rainfall, streamflow and the salt levels at Denmark Dam.

If carting is needed in Denmark, we will advise the community beforehand. Find out more about water carting in the Great Southern Region.

Winter sprinkler switch off now in place

Our winter sprinkler switch off applies to all scheme and bore water users in parts of the Great Southern and South West,  Perth and Mandurah from 1 June to 31 August every year.

Climate change means it’s more important than ever to save water for when it’s needed most.

Background – Rainfall and streamflow into Denmark dams

Denmark, like many parts of Western Australia, is experiencing the impact of climate change through declining rainfall.
In 2019, the town experienced one of its driest years on record.

This means Denmark’s dams can no longer be relied upon as the sole source of water supply, as the town no longer receives consistent, annual rainfall. Most long term Denmark residents will attest to the town just not getting the rainfall that it used to.

While you may have noticed on our website there is more water in Quickup Dam than we expected, this has only been achieved because we have been able to supplement it with about 400 million litres from Denmark River to safeguard water supplies for the dry months ahead.

The rainfall pattern over the last few months has also caused changes to the water quality in the Denmark River. Typically at this time of year, the water in the Denmark River would be too salty to use however due to very low streamflows, we have been able use the water for two purposes:

  • to bank in Quickup Dam (as mentioned above)
  • to directly supply the township of Denmark (rather than drawing on Quickup Dam’s reserves)

By supplying the community with water from Denmark River instead of Quickup Dam, we have retained an additional 100 million litres of water in Quickup.

To put this in context, around half of the water currently in Quickup Dam is from Denmark River, rather than rainfall or streamflow. This is 38 per cent more water than we were able to transfer last year.

If we can manage the water like that, why do we need a pipeline?

While we have been able to manage Denmark’s dams for the coming season, it is not sustainable due to climate change.

Neither dam is connected to a wider scheme, so both are reliant on localised rainfall and streamflow to fill up each winter to last for the rest of the year.

By connecting Denmark to a larger water scheme, which is known as the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme (LGSTWSS) and links nearby places such as Albany and Mt Barker, Denmark will no longer be solely reliant on its local dams for water and to provide longer term water security. Water from Denmark’s local dams will still be used when available.

How far have you progressed with the planning for the pipeline from Albany to Denmark?

Water Corporation has fast-tracked investigations to determine the best route for a pipeline to connect Denmark to the LGSTWSS.

In October 2019, Water Corporation completed flora and fauna surveys for the pipeline, which provided important information on the local environment and potential impacts. Selecting a route that will have the least impact on the local environment is one of our key priorities. This is why the pipeline route will largely be along road reserves and cleared areas wherever possible.

Discussions with land owners along the pipeline route are progressing.

We will share more information about the pipeline in the coming months, with construction expected to begin in June 2020, subject to all the necessary approvals.

Connecting Denmark to the LGSTWSS will not impact the water supplied to towns already connected to the scheme, including Albany. The additional water required for Denmark will be within Water Corporation’s current groundwater allocation set by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

What about carting?

We are constantly monitoring the water situation to ensure the best outcome for the community, and to deliver water in the most cost effective way.

Carting is a very expensive option to deliver water to Denmark. However, we have built infrastructure to expand the Great Southern temporary water carting program to Denmark to supplement the local water supply if needed.

Carting is no longer expected this summer (2019-20) but may be needed before the pipeline is finished, dependent upon 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.

Will you build a desalination plant in Denmark?

While Water Corporation has no plans to construct a desalination plant in Denmark, it remains one of the longer term options for Albany to provide greater security of supply for the LGSTWSS.

Will Water Corporation build new dams in Denmark?

Water Corporation does not have plans to invest in new dams in Denmark because they are rainfall dependent and will not provide any greater security to the drinking water supply.

Will the pipeline from Albany to Denmark also allow water to be taken from Denmark to supply Albany?

No, water will be piped from Albany to Denmark, not the other way around.

The pipeline will be constructed in such a way that the bulk of the water will be delivered from the LGSTWSS to Denmark under gravity so initially there will be no assisted pumping at all.

Will there be enough water for Albany and Denmark to share the same water scheme?

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) has set the 2018-19 allocation limits for the Albany Groundwater Area at 6.91 billion litres – for all water users. Water Corporation has an allocation of 5.35 billion litres each year, which is enough to supply the towns currently supplied by the LGSTWSS and Denmark when it is connected to the scheme.

DWER and Water Corporation will continue to work together to identify, plan, communicate and manage current and future demand, which will also help inform our longer term planning for future sources.

What steps we have taken in recent years

After Denmark received low rainfall in 2014, Denmark’s two dams were at very low levels.

In response, Water Corporation installed two portable desalination (Reverse Osmosis or RO) units at the Water Treatment Plant in Denmark. Initially it was intended the desalination units would be used to treat water from the Denmark Dam (which is naturally higher in salinity during certain months of the year) to supplement drinking water supplies to the town.

During 2015 and 2016, Water Corporation held several community engagement sessions to gather input on how the by-product from the desalination units (the brackish water) would be managed, should the units ever be required.

There were issues with the brine disposal options that received significant community interest, however further discussions around disposal locations were paused after Denmark received sufficient rainfall that year allowing us to re-focus on groundwater investigations as the preferred solution.

In addition, in 2015, Water Corporation also built a pipeline connecting Denmark Dam with Quickup Dam, and an Ultra Filtration (UF) unit to allow treatment and use of Denmark River Dam water at the Denmark Water Treatment Plant. This UF plant is used to remove some of the organic content of water sourced from the Denmark River, which is not conducive to public drinking water supply.

The pipeline, also known as the pumpback main, has been utilised over the past few years to supplement levels in Quickup Dam. Since 2015, the pipeline has utilised around one billion litres of water from Denmark Dam that it may have not been able to access without this pipeline.

However, due to rapidly declining streamflows into both sources, dams alone will not be able to provide long-term security for the community.
While Water Corporation has no plans to construct a desalination plant in Denmark, it remains one of the longer term options for Albany to provide greater security of supply for the LGSTWSS.

What other options have Water Corporation considered to secure Denmark’s water supply?

Water Corporation has been actively pursuing options to secure water supplies in Denmark. These included:

Raising the dam wall at Quickup to increase the storage capacity of the dam - All dam options, including raising Quickup, were dismissed due to the challenges of reduced rainfall/streamflow which simply means we just can’t rely on dams, or surface water alone and need to have greater security of supply for the Denmark community.

Groundwater investigations around Denmark - Not able to locate water of sufficient volume at required quality – also not reliable.

Proposed groundwater investigations on Nullakai peninsula - Not yet proven – would require test drilling first, then bore construction and 30 km pipeline and powerline construction and the longer term viability is unknown. It would take at least four years to develop and sources may not provide enough water to progress beyond this stage.

I have plenty of groundwater on my property. Why can’t you use that?

Some groundwater water sources can provide plenty of water for stock and irrigation, but are not sufficient to supply a whole town the size of Denmark. For example, a groundwater bore that provides 4 litres per second is suitable for irrigation but we would require at least 25 litres per second or 6 bores each providing 4 litres per second to reliably supply water to a town of 2,500 property connections.

Some groundwater bores may be able to yield higher amounts of water but not consistently, so they can’t provide a reliable water supply for a town.

We have previously conducted groundwater investigations around Denmark but we were not able to find sufficient volume at a suitable quality.

How is Water Corporation helping the Denmark community to save water – does this include incentives to buy rainwater tanks?

Water Corporation has been working with the local community in Denmark to save water for a number of years, with the last program run in 2015 helping to save 30 million litres of water. While we are investing to secure Denmark’s water supply, it is still important we continue to work with the community to keep up the great work already being done to save water. The latest Denmark Waterwise Towns Program began on 1 October 2019, and this includes:
  • Free showerhead swap – swap up to two old showerheads for new water efficient models absolutely free.
  • Irrigation system checks – an irrigation specialist will check your run times, set your controller and repair minor leaks.
  • Plumbing checks – a plumber will repair or replace leaking taps, toilets and showers in your home.
  • Rainwater tank rebate – up to $1000 off a new rainwater tank plumbed in, or up to $500 for a replacement tank or plumbing in an existing one.

Water Corporation thanks the Denmark community for its support in securing Denmark’s water supply, including switching their garden sprinkler systems to operate only one day a week instead of the normal two days during summer while Stage 5 restrictions are in place. By switching sprinklers to operate only one day a week, about 29 million litres of water is expected to be saved - the equivalent of about three weeks' water supply for the entire town.

Why are you replacing old water meters in Denmark?

Water Corporation is renewing all ageing standard water meters across Western Australia as part of its Meter Renewal Program. The program is being rolled out in a staged approach, with priority given to areas with older meters – and will soon start in Denmark.

Like most things that get old, meters can slow down over time. The Meter Renewal Program will ensure water use readings are as accurate as possible so everyone is being charged correctly for their water use.

The renewal is free as Water Corporation covers the cost of the meter as well as installation, so long as the meter is accessible and the required clearances are provided.

Residents in Denmark receiving a new meter under this program may notice a slight increase in their water charges, as their old meter may have been under-reading their consumption. This is unrelated to the investment being made to secure Denmark’s water supply through a new pipeline.

How Denmark’s water supply scheme works

The Denmark Water Supply Scheme supplies drinking water to the town of Denmark, with two local dams currently being the only water sources. Water is supplied to around 2,400 connections in the town.

The Denmark Dam was built in 1961 and was the sole source of water for Denmark until the late 1980s when Quickup Dam was built in response to the water in Denmark Dam becoming saltier. Quickup Dam, which is the larger of the two, is now the primary source, and Denmark Dam provides water when needed and it is not too salty.

Neither dams are connected to a wider scheme (like many dams are across much of the Great Southern), so are reliant on localised good rainfall and streamflow to fill up each winter, to last for the rest of the year.