Department of Water fails to follow water licence compliance policy
5 March 2012
The Department of Water is failing to ensure compliance with water licenses and this is contributing to unprecedented pressure on the Gnangara Mound, the Greens spokesperson for Water Alison Xamon said today.
“The Department of Water’s own policy says that in identified priority areas, such as the Gnangara Mound, licences of more than 5ML/year must be metered,” Ms Xamon said.
“Yet this requirement continues to be flagrantly ignored as existing, and new licences, are regularly approved without a monitoring requirement.
“The Department of Water can simply not claim to know how much water is being taken from the Gnangara Mound.”
Current figures on metering from the Gnangara Mound show that urgent action is required. Of the 882 meters on the Mound, one-quarter (237) drew significantly more amounts of water than approved.
These over-users drew 17.3 million kL, more than double their allocation of 8.4 million kL.
“If these alarming figures show what is happening where people are voluntarily agreeing to be monitored, what is happening across the rest of the mound where no metering is occurring at all?” Ms Xamon asked.
“Every household has a meter for monitoring scheme water, and householders are regularly fined for not complying with sprinkler rosters. But if you have a licence to take millions of litres, the government apparently just takes your word for it that you are complying – no meter or monitoring required.”
Questions in Parliament have revealed that there are 1953 licences to extract more than 5ML/year on the Gnangara Mound which according to Departmental policy means they should all have meters. Yet only 760 of these licenses include a metering condition on their licence and only 528 of these licencees were even reporting.
The figures are just as extreme for the biggest water users. Of the 1396 licences to extract more than 50ML each per annum, only 249 are metering and reporting, less than one in five.
“The most recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency on the Gnangara Mound found that groundwater levels were at an unprecedented low and that several lakes and wetlands were at the point of irreversible damage as a result,” Ms Xamon said.
“As a matter of urgency the Minister needs to ensure that the Department of Water is enforcing the requirement for meters, that there are adequate numbers of trained staff to undertake monitoring and that the Government show the political will to prioritise this.
“What we know is that if you can’t measure you can’t manage. Clearly the Department of Water is doing neither. And the buck stops with the Water Minister,” Ms Xamon said.
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering