Dam fine idea for Murchison River

Claire TyrrellCountryman

As WA faces looming water shortages, Binnu farmer Bob Cornell has his own ideas about tackling future water supplies.

Mr Cornell would like to dam the Murchison River.

“My idea is to take the water from above ground,” he said.

“They’ve been talking about damming Lake Argyle for years, but we’ve got plenty of water here.”

Mr Cornell said the Murchison provided millions of gigalitres of fresh water that would otherwise run out to sea.

He said the Kalbarri Gorges could act as a sink for the Murchison’s water.

Department of Water Midwest Gascoyne manager Adam Maskew said damming the Murchison was unviable at this stage.

“The department has investigated potential surface water sources on the Murchison River, but there are issues with water quality – such as salinity and turbidity,” he said.

Mr Maskew said the Kalbarri National Park limited the number of sites where the river could be dammed.

Mr Cornell said he would like to see a cost comparison between setting up a desalination plant for sea water, damming Lake Argyle and damming the Murchison.

Controversy has surrounded water supplies in the Mid West as mining projects and horticulture users look to groundwater sources.

Karara Mining’s application to draw water from the Parmelia aquifer in Mingenew has caused strong objections.

The Nationals MLA Grant Woodhams said the Karara Mining water stoush was a sign of things to come.

“Karara and Mingenew is one episode in a few ongoing and shows that as a nation we are at the point where water has become more important now than it has ever been,” he said.

Mr Cornell informed Grant Woodhams of his idea, but it was brushed to one side.

“Damming the Murchison is not something we are looking at,” Mr Woodhams said. “There are a whole other range of priorities a long way ahead of that.”

Mr Woodhams said damming the Gascoyne River was an important prospect the government was considering.

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