Where does Busselton’s water come from?
All of Busselton’s drinking water comes from groundwater. It is extracted by Busselton Water from the deep, underground Yarragadee aquifer, then treated at one of our three local water treatment plants before being distributed to homes and businesses across the region.
How much groundwater does our region use for drinking water?
In 2021, 5.5GL of groundwater was extracted to provide drinking water to our community.
Is there a limit on the amount of available groundwater Busselton Water can extract?
Yes. Whilst the Yarragadee is a large aquifer, it is also a limited resource that is only recharged by rainfall. It is imperative that we preserve this groundwater supply as much as possible, particularly in the face of reduced rainfall as a result of climate change.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation ensures that the aquifer is well managed and sets limits on the amount of water Busselton Water (and others) can extract.
Can’t we just get water from other drinking water sources?
In Perth and other areas, there are other sources of water (including desalination, dams and groundwater replenishment) but in Busselton, all of our drinking water currently comes from groundwater. There are currently no other water sources for our drinking water supply.
Is climate change impacting on our groundwater?
Yes. Climate change is having a profound effect on our groundwater supply. Groundwater replenishment is reliant on rainfall – but due to climate change, rainfall is reducing in our region (by 20% since 1970) and our groundwater is not ‘topped up’ by rainfall as much as it once was.
How can we ease the impacts of climate change on our water supply?
We all have a role to play in reducing the impacts of climate change on our groundwater and drinking water supply.
As individuals and a community, we must use water more efficiently and adopt waterwise habits as part of our everyday life. Busselton Water supports these efforts through waterwise programs with business, industry and households and our waterwise education programs in schools.
More broadly, we are also planning for the future – mapping our region’s future water use and needs, undertaking modelling and sustainable infrastructure planning, and adopting a range of operational efficiencies to reduce our carbon footprint, including electric vehicles and solar electricity.
What are the biggest risks to our groundwater supply?
Our region has grown, and with that, there has been a steady increase in demand for drinking water over more than a decade.
At the same time, climate change is having very real impacts on our region’s drinking water source, the Yarragadee underground aquifer, which is replenished by rainfall.
It is acknowledged that regional groundwater levels have been declining in the South West since the 1960s and, by 2030, our winter rainfall is projected to decrease by up to 15% and by up to 25% by 2050. Ultimately, less rainfall in any region contributes to a reduction in groundwater and an increase in seawater intrusion.
What is saltwater intrusion?
Saltwater intrusion is the movement of saline (salty) water into freshwater aquifers (such as the Yarragadee aquifer, Busselton’s groundwater source for drinking water).
If groundwater bores draw more water out of the groundwater aquifer than the amount replenished by rain, groundwater levels reduce and the salty ocean water mixes with the fresh groundwater.
Why is saltwater intrusion a concern in our region?
Busselton Water manages a network of bores to provide fresh drinking water to our community. With Busselton being a coastal city, these bores are all located close to the coastline, making them very susceptible to saltwater intrusion.
How serious is saltwater intrusion in terms of an impact on our region’s fresh drinking water supplies?
Busselton Water is taking climate change and its impacts like saltwater intrusion very seriously.
In 2018 we embarked on crucial modelling of our bore network, with results showing that saltwater intrusion caused by climate change is already impacting on our water source. It also showed that within 50 years, our coastal bore network will no longer be able to supply the same, high-quality water that it does today.
What is Busselton Water doing to protect our drinking water source and ensure water for the future?
Busselton Water must balance the needs of today’s community with future demand, growth and climate impacts of the future to ensure the delivery of high-quality, fresh drinking water for future generations.
Part of this is planning for new inland infrastructure – a new water treatment plant and inland bore network capable of meeting demand over the next 50 years and beyond.
At the same time, we will continue to work with our community to reduce water use and conserve our finite groundwater supplies through our waterwise programs with households, schools, businesses and the broader community.