Residents in deep water

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Mingenew residents are in a race against time to secure future water resources, as the period for public submissions for the Parmelia water aquifer draws to a close.

Gindalbie Metals has applied to draw 5.3 gigalitres of water from the Parmelia aquifer for its Karara project, which would account for the remaining available water in the aquifer.

The Mingenew community formed a Water Action Group late last year to formalise its opposition to the application.

The group opposed the State’s ‘first-in first-served’ water policy that would allow applicants to draw the entire remaining rights to water from the aquifer.

Mingenew farmer Ben Cobley, a member of the action group, said he was concerned about the impact of Karara’s application on future water use.

Mr Cobley said he was also concerned about the environmental impacts of the water use, particularly on Mingenew’s wetlands.

Mr Cobley’s property lies on the northern part of the Urella Fault.

He plans to develop some of his farm for horticulture in the next few years.

“Should this go ahead, there will be no opportunity for us to expand our enterprise, ” he said.

WA Nationals Member for the Agricultural Region Philip Gardiner paid a visit to Mr Cobley this month.

Mr Gardiner shared the view of the Water Action Group in that there were issues with the water policy. “There should be criteria against any one company or business using all the remaining water from an aquifer, ” he said.

Mr Gardiner said he was in discussions with his National colleagues to determine what could be done to influence the decision.

“I would have grave concerns if all the water from that aquifer was taken, ” he said.

Water Action Group secretary Zoe Campbell said it was unreasonable for the Department of Water (DoW) to expect the community to comment on the issue over the Christmas break.

“The public submission period is a joke, ” she said.

“The Christmas and new year period is the only break farmers get all year, and most people are away during this time.”

Ms Campbell said she did not hold anything against Karara for applying for the water, but the licensing process itself was unjust.

The DoW is expected to make a decision on the licence in mid 2011, after the period for public submissions closes on January 31.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails