As Busselton grows, so does the pressure on our water supply

Western Australia’s South West region is world-renowned.

With its spectacular beaches, bountiful coastline, picturesque forests, rich harvests and exceptional wines, Busselton is the gateway to the region.

But it wasn’t that long ago that Busselton was a ‘sleepy’ coastal town, where families from Perth would take the holiday road trip (much longer than it is today) to get away from the city and enjoy the beach and bush. Just a couple of decades later, Busselton has grown exponentially. It’s not only a top destination for local, interstate and international visitors – tens of thousands of tourists visit each year – but a place that many have chosen to call home. In fact, the City of Busselton alone now has just over 41,000 people and is projecting nearly 44,000 within four years.

As our population grows, so too does our need for fresh, high-quality drinking water. By the end of this decade, our community will need around 25 per cent more water than is supplied today (from 23.7ML/ per day to 33.9ML per day).

Where we draw our water

While we enjoy an amazing expanse of coastline and a system of waterways, the water we drink comes from groundwater. From the Yarragadee aquifer to be exact. It’s the oldest, largest and most dependable aquifer water supply in WA. Currently, we extract all of our drinking water from the Yarragadee using a coastal bore network (nine bores). The water is treated and then pumped to homes and businesses.

Last year Busselton Water, with a licence area which stretches far beyond the city of Busselton, supplied more than 14,000 customers and added just over 400 new services to its network.

As the region’s population continues to grow, at close to two percent a year, and with the drying climate trend continuing, demand for water locally is expected to double over the next 50 years.

Big impact

In Perth and other areas, there are other sources of water, including desalination and dams. But right now, all the drinking water supplied by Busselton Water comes from the huge Yarragadee aquifer.

However, rainfall is declining and that means that the amount of water recharging the aquifer is declining too. What was once 140 GL a year is down to just 90 GL.

And salt water from the ocean is starting to push its way in. Those changes, combined with more people moving into the region, will put the system under immense pressure.

New infrastructure

Our current network of bores and treatment plans need to be reinforced, so we are planning a key new water source at an inland location, away from the salty coastal region.

A new water treatment plant, known as Plant 8, and a new bore will be built on a four-hectare site, approximately five kilometres from the coast, opposite the Busselton Margaret River Airport.

Careful management

The new infrastructure will help keep everyone in the region supplied with the water they will need, but we will still need to be careful. Water-saving habits need to become second nature for everyone, and waterwise businesses, homes and gardens will be the order of the day.

You’ve probably heard it all before, but it’s time to start taking action, if you haven’t done so already.  Make sure you’re on top of the small waterwise changes that can make a big change to Busselton’s future.

The reality is that abundant, unlimited water is a thing of the past. Groundwater is simply not replenished to the extent that it once was and Busselton is growing fast. So, as a community, we need to work together to preserve and protect this finite water source. Thank you for helping ensure we all have Water for Tomorrow.

If you’re looking for more ideas to save water and take the pressure off – you’ll find some here! 

And if you want to know more about Water for Tomorrow, you’ll also find more on our website.