A $6.1 million drilling and monitoring program is currently underway in the Fitzroy Valley (WA), in an attempt to define sufficient, sustainable groundwater for a potential irrigated fodder operation.

WA Water Minister, Mia Davies, said the investigation was part of the broader $40 million Water for Food program, which was accelerating groundwater investigations across the state.

A drill rig team is currently working with the Bungardi and Darlngunaya Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal reserve land on the outskirts of Fitzroy Crossing.

“The drilling program and establishment of monitoring bores is part of a rigorous, science-based water resource investigation, which will also include airborne electromagnetic surveys to map the extent and salinity of alluvial aquifers, and provide greater knowledge of deeper geological structures,” Ms Davies said.

Airborne electromagnetic surveys will start in August and include data collection for the Derby areas, the May and Meda Rivers area, the Willare-Lower Fitzroy River area, Fitzroy Crossing and the Oscar Ranges.

Ms Davies said the Fitzroy Valley project was one of several Water for Food projects in the West Kimberley aimed at increasing economic growth and regional employment.  The Minister said she hoped the Fitzroy Valley groundwater investigation would ultimately benefit the 3,000 Aboriginal people who lived in 45 communities in the valley – many on pastoral stations controlled by their own corporations.

The Water for Food program works closely with a range of State Government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Environment Regulation to ensure future irrigation proponents obtain all approvals and adhere to rigorous monitoring conditions.

WA Regional Development Minister, Terry Redman said extensive community consultation had been at the forefront of the project and was critical to its success.

“We will continue to develop these important relationships with pastoralists, traditional owner groups, local governments and other stakeholders,” Mr Redman said.

“I’m thrilled Royalties for Regions can play a vital role in funding regional agricultural development opportunities that create significant long term economic benefits and drive regional growth for the benefit of the State.”

Fact file

  • Water for Food is a key component of the State Government’s $300 million Seizing the Opportunity in Agriculture initiative
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